What’s in a name? The element of a piece of work that gets the most attention is usually the image itself. However, there is another auxiliary element to it – the title. It can mean different things to different artists and get varying responses from those who read it or hear it spoken. Sometimes the title may be an afterthought for an artist. Other works are untitled, perhaps as an attempt of the artist to isolate and only use one medium to influence the viewer. It could be that the artist feels the image should evoke emotion without having words:
Some artists describe exactly what the work is; the title becoming an informative description:
Yet to other artists, the title is an element of the piece. Sometimes it may even come first, before the work is completed. In these instances it is contributing to the imagery, influencing thoughts by relationship, or bringing in outside feelings. It can be slightly subtler such as bringing in additional context in a work such as:
The title can also be a complete and dominant element of the piece such as, “An Oak Tree”, seen below:
Other titles are famous and transcend the image itself – the words spread further. Some may recognize the name the Mona Lisa or Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night, but perhaps couldn’t recall specific details aside from their general appearance. If you feel inclined, next time you are buying a piece of art, take a glance at the title. How does it make you feel? What might the artist have been thinking of when he or she named the piece?
- Flag Waving (zatista.com)
- Artist’s Books (zatista.com)
- Van Gogh’s Starry Night Named World’s Most Popular Oil Painting of the Decade (prweb.com)