Gallery Wrap vs Stretched Canvas - What's the Difference?

November 21, 2018

In Alignment is an oil painting by Lee Mims and is gallery wrapped

Artists have been painting on canvas since early in the 16th Century. The canvas is stretched tight over a wooden support which is commonly referred to as stretcher strips.

In the past, the canvas was attached to the stretcher strips with flat head nails. This can take a great deal of time and craftsmanship to make sure that the canvas is taught and does not bulge or ripple in any area. It is also something one looks for when working with antique paintings.

Untitled 2 is an acrylic abstract painting by Doug Brannon. It is gallery wrappedToday, the canvas is attached with staples. These are easier and quicker to use since they can be applied while holding the canvas tight with a clamp in the other hand. The staples are attached to the sides of the wooden supports and the edge of the canvas is left raw. The artists create their paintings just on the top surface. The raw edges of the finished painting are covered with a frame. The frame gives a finishing touch to the art in the same way that hemming a garment completes the clothes.

Recently, a new presentation on canvas is known as gallery wrap. The canvas is stretched over wooden stretchers which are usually 1 ¼ inches or thicker. The canvas is folded and tucked around the sides and is stapled or attached on the back. This leaves the side of the canvas smooth and without any nails or staples to detract from the visual effect. Artists would extend the painting around the sides.  The art is then displayed without a frame.

Neither gallery wrap nor traditional stretched canvas is better than the other. Some artists and collectors prefer the way the art looks framed and others prefer an unframed look.

The major consideration with gallery wrap is to make sure that the stretcher strips are sturdy enough not to bow over time so that the painting develops a twist to it. This is usually not a concern when the art has been framed since the frame prevents this problem. 

Seaside Art Gallery has a beautiful selection of original art for you to choose from. Stop in our gallery to enjoy the art in person. Already found one online that you’ve fallen in love with? No worries, just order it now on our website or give us a call. We are happy to serve you!

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