When Television is Suitable for Framing

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By Anne Eisenberg

Donald J. Douglass, of New Canaan, Conn.,
says many visitors think his framed television is contemporary artwork.

Many people like the look of a flat-panel television hanging on the living room wall – so long as something's on. Turn the set off, though, and the blank screen becomes an eyesore to those who want a TV to disappear when they aren't watching it. Fortunately for those consumers, aesthetic ways to camouflage that huge L.C.D. or plasma panel, and perhaps even enhance the room's decor, are on the market.

Companies that traditionally frame mirrors and paintings are creating special frames for wall-mounted televisions. The artful frame, many of them gilded replicas of classic designs, may fool viewers into thinking they are seeing not a powered-down L.C.D., but a smoky gray antique mirror—or even a piece of contemporary art. Donald J. Douglass learned this illusion first hand. Mr. Douglass, chairman of the board of the Alamo Group, a manufacturer of mowing and other equipment, collects American Impressionist and other art, some of which he displays in his town house in New Canaan, Conn.

In one room, he has both an oil painting by John Singer Sargent, and a flat panel wall-mounted television. But the set blends right into the room, he said, largely because he asked Eli Wilner, a dealer in antique and replica frames in New York City, to come up with a frame that made the TV inconspicuous.

Mr. Wilner decided to surround the television, which has a sky blue screen when it is turned off, with a reproduction of a golden frame designed by the architect Stanford White.

Now, when visitors to Mr. Douglass's home noticed the gilded frame and its blue content, many don't realize that they are looking at a television. They that it's contemporary artwork, he said. "They want to know, who did that painting?" Mr. Wilner's frames, which are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the White House, among other places, are expensive. "For a 50-inch TV set," Mr. Wilner said, "you could spend $85,000.00 for a period frame and $30,000.00 for a replica."
(A selection of frames is at www.eliwilner.com.)

Allan S. Orling For The New York Times