Before I declare my favorite frame, a bit of history.
In custom frame design, minimalism has long been an enduring aesthetic. Today, metal frames – specifically, those from the Nielsen company, the world’s premier maker of metal picture frames – still lead the way in minimalism.
But metal frames haven’t always been so commonplace.
Birth of a frame.
Presenting the artwork of Abstract Expressionist artists of the 1950s and creators of pop of the ‘60s required restraint. The works were oftentimes large, vivid, graphic and contemporary. The frames that held them needed to be strong, well-structured, and simple. They should never compete with, or upstage, the art. For abstract expressionist works as well as pop art, metal frames fit the bill perfectly.
Before the sectional picture frame was made popular by the Nielsen company, aluminum frames were custom-molded by individual framers. The most renowned of these framers was Robert Kulicke, of the MOMA in New York, whose “Kulicke frame” featured a tasteful welded design. Generally, however, aluminum frames were exclusive and expensive, more of a specialty item than a consumer product.
Add screws and brackets, and an industry was born.
Then in the 70’s, Donald Herbert, an inventor and member of Kulicke’s team, created metal frames by joining sections together with screws and simple corner brackets. As a result, the custom metal frame industry began to flourish, and the Nielsen metal frame company drove the burgeoning industry.
American Frame: Proud source of Nielsen metal frames.
At American Frame, we’re proud to have been the first company to offer what’s now known as the Nielsen #11 frame directly to artists. At the time, our company was called ASF Sales – ASF stood for “Aluminum Sectional Frame.” Nielsen #11 was a simple, DIY custom picture framing solution ideal for preparing art for exhibition. It has an elegantly square profile, significant tensile strength, was priced reasonably, could be cut precisely to within 1/16”, and was easy to assemble.