A new look at canvas pictures

By: Katharine McKee

Canvas Printing is the latest buzz in the market. Even bad painters have made superb pictures thanks to the concept of canvas printing. But there are some who have already grown bored of that rectangular canvas shape. And this is when the concept of shaped canvas comes forward.
Shaped canvas basically means a change in the shape of the canvas used for printing. These changed shapes include round, trigonal, hexagonal, etc. But keep in mind that only the contours of the canvas are changed, their flatness is kept intact. An example of painting on a round canvas is Tondo, a painting style of the Renaissance period. Tondo was used to make Madonna paintings.
The reason why flatness of the canvas is retained is that without this property, the print would cease to be a painting. It would then be known as a sculpture.
Abraham Joel Tobias is considered as the earliest modern painter to work on shaped canvas. The first shaped canvas exhibition was held in Paris, France by German painter Rupprecht Geiger. In the 1960’s Jasper Johns gained popularity for his painting- ‘American Flag Painting’. This painting was characterized by placing of one canvas on the top of another canvas larger in size. Some other famous shaped canvas painters of that era are Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, Ronald Davis, Kenneth Noland, Richard Tuttle, Barnett Newman, Robert Mangold and David Novros.
Minimalists, Hard-edge printers and Geometric abstract artists decide the shape of their canvas on the basis of the edges of their painting. They don’t directly go with the conventional rectangular canvas.
Jane Frank’s multiple canvas paintings radiate a sculptural effect due to the presence of large, irregularly shaped holes on the front of the canvas. She also supported the use of different colors, textures and shapes which gave a distinct introspective quality to the painting.
Amongst today’s painters, Elizabeth Murray’s forceful paintings leave a special impact on the viewer. Filipino artist Pacita Abad is known for stitching her prints to give them a three dimensional feel. She named this concept as Trapunto.
Rectangular canvas requires little maintenance as compared to shaped canvas. In case of shaped canvas sculpture, special care must be taken to keep all minute parts free from dust. Once the dust settles in small gaps, it is mighty hard to remove it completely.
One very important advantage that shaped canvas prints have is that they leave a forceful impression on the viewer as compared to regular rectangular prints. This is because shaped canvas are chosen in accordance to the paintings. Thus, there are some paintings where a round canvas would look better than a rectangular one.
Thus, with the evolution of canvas painting came the concept of shaped canvas. Although shaped canvasses were first used by Raphael, they are popular till today in different parts of the world. Many artists have preferred the use of shaped canvas and there are several reasons for their choice. And in today’s artistic world, shaped canvas paintings are given equal importance as rectangular canvas paintings.

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Canvas Dezign have been making canvas pictures for over 8 years now.

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