Titles Get In The Way

You have a piece of art, be it a painting, a video screen or a piece of free-standing sculpture. And this piece of art elicits a certain response in the viewer. But as the artist or creator of this artwork, you have to give it a name. And the name you choose to give it elicits a different response. Or explains away too much.

And so here’s a viewer who’s seen an artwork and now they’ve got two ideas in their head about the same piece. This is where the whole notion of ‘Untitled’ came into the world. Not wanting to add anything to the artwork by having a title get in the way, artists started naming their work ‘Untitled’. But to my mind there are now so many ‘Untitled’ artworks knocking around that the word has just become part of the art establishment and /or lost its usefulness. In any open-submission art competition nowadays, far too many of the entries are called ‘Untitled’.

At one stage, I was giving works nonsensical titles, such as calling a painting of a measuring tape ‘Window’. But that kind of thing just makes too much of the title. The title of the work then becomes more important than the work itself.

And so we come to numbers

The numbers used can’t mean anything however. On the day that you make the great decision to use numbers as titles there’s no point in calling the first painting Number One and the second painting Number Two. That’s just logical and easy to work out.

The whole point of numbers as titles is that they should be arbitrary and pointless because titles are pointless and have nothing to do with visual art. 726 I think makes for a good title. No special reason. Just came up with the number. It shouldn’t matter if ‘726′ was a painting of a pope screaming or of dogs playing cards. ‘726’ as a title could then easily be ignored. But this is the Art World. It wouldn’t be, would it.

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