Discover Benelux | Dutch Design | Made in the Netherlands
TOP LEFT: Amie Dicke @ Gallery Stichter van Doesburg. BELOW LEFT: Jockum Nordström, Djuren är vårt hopp, courtesy Zeno X Gallery. Photo by Peter Cox. RIGHT: Michaël Borremans, courtesy Zeno X Gallery. Photo by Peter Cox
Fine artwork deserves even finer framework TEXT: JULIËN L’ORTYE | PHOTOS: MERTENS FRAMES
In June 2004, a man walked into Loods 6, a magnificent former maritime warehouse in Amsterdam East, full of trend-setting outlets, contemporary artists and creative hot-shops. Once inside, his eye met a painting he found so intriguing, enquiries needed to be made. However, it was not the artwork itself that triggered his curiosity, but its framing. A week later, this man, Willem Asselbergs, bought Mertens Frames, the company responsible for the framework. Artist Peter Mertens once founded the framing business after a dissatisfying expedition to find a suitable frame for one of his own works. What made the few pieces of wood so compelling? Why is a decent framework so important? Asselbergs explains: “The framework’s function is ambiguous, actually. On one hand, it must conserve the art piece against for example UV, humidity and acids. On the other end, it has a profound aesthetic function – it needs to
operate completely in service of the art piece, especially when it comes to highend contemporary art.” That is one of the main reasons why Mertens Frames only works with slender and refined profiles. According to their way of working, the frame should never distract from the artwork itself. Nearly everything in the framing shop, with 1,260 square metres of atelier space in Amsterdam and Brussels, is done by hand. The frames are a prime craftwork, constructed in its own woodwork shop, where every piece of rough wood is singlehandedly inspected and selected. But attention to detail and conservation is also key in the final assembly. As such, Mertens Frames pioneers with the development of a smart frame technology which monitors and mitigates harmful influences the artwork is exposed to. Asselbergs: “A poor frame ruins the artwork. If the framing is done badly, even a
layperson will notice the unsettling impact on the art. When everything is properly balanced, the framed artwork will give you a great feeling.” One of Mertens Frames’ well-known clients is the Swedish artist Jockum Nordström. Originally, the artist wanted them to copy his frameworks that were already in use. However, after Mertens Frames demonstrated what could be aesthetically achieved, Nordström quickly opted for the new design, since he understood his old frames did not do justice to his work. The results were so satisfying that Nordström and Mertens Frames have continued their collaboration ever since. A true compliment and well deserved, given their commitment to craftsmanship, technology and meticulous attention to detail that is being delivered by Mertens Frames. Web: www.mertensframes.com
Issue 47 | November 2017 | 29
Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.