Your artwork is complete, and now you are going to exhibit it or try to sell it. So what title do you attach to this work and how do you describe this work and yourself to the viewing public ?
Sometimes this might seem really obvious if your work depicts a person, a pet or a place. But is it really quite so obvious as things first appear.
Take for example a piece of work that has been inspired by a place that you have visited.
Do you call your work “Lands End”, and then perhaps limit your viewing public and potential purchaser only to people who have visited or know of this location ? Or do you call you work “Land and Sea” and leave the actual location to your viewer’s own imagination ?
And what about Portraits?
Do you do the same as Vermeer and entitle your work, “Girl With A Pearl Earring” ?, and this girl could be anyone.
Or do you follow Klimt’s lead and call your work, ” A Portrait of Adele Blcoh-Bauer” ? , which leaves no doubt as to the sitter’s identity.
Whilst sometimes artwork is given such a lengthy title and has used lots of words, but has actually told you nothing.
A good example of this, is a piece of work currently on display in the John Moores 2012 Exhibition in the Liverpool Walker Art Gallery.
The work is entitled; “Painting of Ikea shelf brackets painted in such a way as to signify towards Ikea founder Ingvar Kampad’s involvement with Nazism and Swedish Nationalism, distracted by varying levels of perspective depth …”
And then there are other examples where ambiguity is used. As in the artist Jules Olitski’s work “Optimum 1966″.
Or perhaps the easiest option of all is to simply call your work “Untitled” or just give it a number, as in Jackson Pollock’s work “Number 8″.
But next we get to how an artist describes both themselves and their work !
These description can range from the extremely obscure :
As quoted from a recent exhibition catalogue :-
“I live on earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I’m not a category. I’m not a noun. I’m an evolutionary process – An integral function of the Universe. Art is the visualisation of that intelligence …”
To the much more direct approach from another artist quoted from the same catalogue :-
“Sea Shores and Landscapes painted in thick, luscious oil paint on canvas are the subjects most often used in my semi-abstract paintings. ”
Like all art, there is never a right or a wrong way of seeing or doing things. Everything is down to personal choice and opinion, and is always going to be subjective.
But perhaps all artists should remember that the words they choose to describe themselves and their work are also read by the people who are viewing the art work, and that if they want to engage their viewing public they should choose their words with care.
And I know that my own personal preference is to use straightforward, plain speaking simplicity, and allow the artwork itself to do most of the talking.
Written by Wendy Proctor
Visit Wendy’s website at www.wendyproctor.co.uk