What’s in a name (title)?

I did my first ‘Untitled’ painting a few weeks ago. I’m torn between ‘Untitled’ as a naming device. I’ve always considered ‘Untitled’ to be a dog-lazy way of coming up with names for paintings. But by the same token I’ve always felt that the English language (or indeed any language) has nothing whatsoever to do with visual art. I mean why should the name by which a painting is known have anything to do with the actual image itself.

But apparently it does.

Oil painting of Measuring tape on small bit of plywood
Window, 2017, Oil on Birch Ply, 30 cm x 21 cm, 2017

I entered two small paintings of a measuring tape and a clamp into an art competition a few years ago. As a joke, and to give the arty-set something to talk about, I called the painting of the measuring tape (which was quite clearly a picture of a measuring tape) ‘Window’ and called the painting of the clamp (not pictured), ‘Car’. But I wasn’t being profound or thoughtful in any way. I was laughing at them.

And now, while I ponder on the idea of titles, I’m thinking did I only get into that exhibition because the picture of the measuring tape was called ’Window’? Was it necessary for the higher authorities in the Art world to have both picture and words to think about and discuss. Is the image on its own no longer enough?

Well if that’s the case I’m rightly fucked. I was 52 before I managed a painting of something that didn’t look like that particular something (we’ll call it abstract). Is it going to take me another fifty years to get the titles similarly vague and mysterious? It would appear that painting a picture of a dog and calling the painting ‘Dog’ is not acceptable practice.

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