Grace and subtlety are the watchwords when it comes to designs in matting today. The trend is decidedly away from the flamboyant embellishments of previous decades toward a striking yet subdued expression that finds its greatest expression in larger, thicker mats, as well as restrained enhancements such as float mounts and hover affects.
Where in the past mats were dressed up with watercolor washes and clever cutting tricks, the new paradigm is all about zeroing in on the artwork by creating broad visual fields that place the artwork distinctly at the center. White or off white mats with wide borders serve this purpose, creating a presentation that isolates a small image in a relatively large frame.
The sequential arrangement of art in identical mats and frames creates a punctuated effect where the wall itself is the visual field that is broken up with a presentation of satisfying regularity.
Double matting, with its stepping down affect, which leads the viewer’s eye into the composition, is still common currency, but is increasingly supplanted by single mats that are twice as thick, providing a deep bevel effect that accomplishes the same purpose more subtly.
The use of color generally is downplayed in favor of stark white mats with bleached or cotton cores. Where color still plays a role in matting it is more restrained than in the past, offered up in narrower lines, the primary purpose of which is to break up fields rather than resonate and amplify the image.
Bold statements are still made, of course, but utilizing size and proportion as the main tools, rather than color. Mats where the side borders are considerably wider than the top and bottom borders are one such statement . Hover affects, where the over-mat in a double mat appears to hover above the artwork, impart a subtle drama. Float mounting, where the window of the mat is larger than the artwork so that the edges of the art are visible, works a similar impression.
Trends in matting design are toward a paradoxical subtlety achieved by downplaying the overt use of color while amplifying size and proportion for a bold statement that focuses the eye on the artwork.
Images of framed art courtesy of Nielsen Bainbridge Framing