NEW YORK, NY.-
For as long as he can remember, Eli Wilner
has understood the importance of a frame to a work of art. "My great uncle was an art collector," he recalls "and he insisted that everything had to be in an antique frame, so even as a kid my paintings were always framed. Then they would be placed next to a Chagall or a Klee, so I thought I was a great master."
Since opening his gallery in 1983, Wilner has established himself as a leading authority on the art of framing, with a client roster that includes the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cooper Hewitt Museum, the Corcoran Gallery and the White House."
"The key for a good frame is not to overwhelm the painting, but to frame it so it shows the best effect," he advises. "It should be a perfect marriage that creates a unity of object. It should go with the painting as if the painter chose the frame himself. I try and get inside the mind of the artist and try to emulate what it was he or she would have wanted in the frame, whether it's Picasso or Matisse, Renoir or O'Keefe."
While he still maintains a collection of over 3,000 antique American and European frames, he has witnessed a shift in the market over the past few decades. "In the early 80's, people were throwing away frames and they were easy to come by," he says, "but that's changed now and mostly I find them through word-of-mouth or estate sales."
Wilner's early exposure to great art serves him well in his current role. "I look at frames in the same way as I look at sculpture," he says. "I think of them as sculptures that hang on the wall."