A lot of artists don’t give their works a title and it really gives me the pip. Walking around galleries around the world, I’ll come across a spectacular artwork, I’ll walk up and get closer look, see who created it and what it’s called.
Artist, Untitled, 1972
For me, not giving an artwork a name, is like not naming a child. A title gives an artwork a sense of identity, it adds to the work, it helps derive meaning and for dumb-arses like me, it helps understand the work, it helps to kick-start a little conversation in my head with the artist and it’s a glimpse into what the casual passer-by may not normally see.
I know some artists will cry “The meaning of my work is whatever you make of it” but I think this is just lazy. And miserly. I think artists are obligated to reward people, give them a leg-up, help them get inside their mind and share what they were thinking at the time.
I want to help celebrate an artist’s work and get an understanding of their world view. And when a work is untitled, I feel like the artist is saying “I don’t want to talk about it”, “I don’t want to share”, “Shut up and get out of my face”.
Speaking of titles, I’ve been in the Studio again working like a nutcase. The image above is of one of my latest works, which I am toying with titles like Drop Out or Black Spot on Bombay Road. It’s about the signal tower completely destroying the landscape but our need to stay in touch makes it essential, kind of, and that we go to the country to escape but we’re always wired up. The work below is going to be massive haystacks on the road to Tarago, like huge ships in the field. I’m worried it’s going to be too monotone, time to rethink colours. And titles.