I was on my annual visit to the Bologna Art Fair recently and I thought if I see another art work titled “Untitled” then
I am going to go on a visual strike and just not pay any more attention to the art work. This diatribe of mine was triggered by seeing a photograph on a blog that had a really good title, this work by Josefontheroad
Photographer Cindy Sherman deserves some sort of negative award on this count – most of her pictures are entitled ‘untitled’ followed by a number.This is “Untitled film still#14” The supreme irony is that these untitled pictures are accompanied by thousands of words by art critics, philosophers, feminists, sociologists and so on. An untitled print by Cindy Sherman like “Untitled #96“ will set you back $3,890,000 – not bad for someone who said this about her work,
“I didn’t want to make ‘high’ art, I had no interest in using paint, I wanted to find something that anyone could relate to without knowing about contemporary art.
I wasn’t thinking in terms of precious prints or archival quality; I didn’t want the work to seem like a commodity.”
Some artists take a lot of trouble over naming their pictures. I particularly like the woodcut artist Felix Vallatton. His titles often seem to be in conflict with the image implying a different meaning to what the image suggests. Le Mensonge (lie) is a case in point – who is lying to whom?
Another image that is startling when one learns the title is this one by Pieter Bruegel.It appears to be just a landscape with a ploughman in the foreground, but then the title Icarus changes everything, turning a mere pastoral into tragedy; poor Icarus has just plummeted into the sea bottom right.
But I especially like this piece by Brancusi from 1916 called “Princess X” – well, if you didn’t know, what would you think it was?