Artistic works are hard to control once they leave the artist’s studio and their fate even more unpredictable. But, one Brussels-born man makes it his mission to protect them—body and soul. A former theologian, Bernard Vandeuren has dedicated his life to ensuring picture protection and finishing. “Making sure a work is archival and will last is just the beginning,” says Vandeuren, “the real challenge is to discover a paintings soul and address it accordingly.”
In 1999, Bernard founded Vandeuren Galleries in Los Angeles near the Pacific Design Center. “There are two of America’s oldest and most respected framers in New York, Lowy and Eli Wilner, but there was no one based in the West Coast of equal quality,” begins Bernard, “but beyond offering the highest quality and craft I felt I could provide something that can not—discovering the soul of the work and finishing the artistic intention.” Vandeuren does not just frame a work but considers the artist’s intent, analyzes the composition and works with the client to create a new version of the work that includes the frames as part of the entire thought.
Recently Vandeuren’s work could be seen at the Pasadena Museum of California Art in the exhibition of Mexican master Ramos Martinez. Martinez, considered the “Father of Mexican Modernism,” was a contemporary of Diego Rivera. And, like Rivera explored themes of social class. It was with this in mind that Bernard and his client decided to create a custom frame for their work.
The frame creation took a team of carvers nine-months to complete. The result, a custom figuratively carved and gilded with a blended gold leaf finish from France, explores the social theme in the manor of Martinez. The top domed portion of the frame illuminates a Utopian vision of Mexican society featuring beautiful women decorated with magnificent calla lilies. The left and right sides of the frame depicts members of the clergy intertwined with bandits, demonstrating the power and influence of the clergy during that time. Finally, the bottom portion of the frame is dense with peasants and other citizens in bondage.