Sunday, May 07, 2017

A Title Is Evocative

Sublime Touch, by Steven Boone, oil on  linen, 30 x 40 inches

After thirty years of making art and thousands of paintings, occasionally I have run out of ideas for titles. Probably some have been used twice. Especially since my sunsets are so popular—how many titles can I invent for sunsets? I have used Sunset Sublime, Sunset Song, Western Glow, Western Drama, Path To The West, Western Touch, Sunset Surprise. One of my very favorites is Heartfire, a title I collaborated on. It is a large painting.
At present I am working on a commission, a large sunset that I might name Heart Song.

A title helps a viewer get in touch with an artists' feelings about his work, and perhaps understand the intention behind it. A title is evocative at best, and disappointing at worst, e.g. when a work is labelled "Untitled".

During the heyday of abstract expressionism, titles were kept to a bland neutrality, so as not to influence someones experience of the artwork. A work might be titled Monday, because it was created on a Monday. Jackson Pollock (American, January 28, 1912 – August 11, 1956) gave his pictures conventional titles at first, but changed to numbers. He commented: “…look passively and try to receive what the painting has to offer and not bring a subject matter or preconceived idea of what to look for.” Pollock’s wife, Lee Krasner (American, October 27, 1908 – June 19, 1984), said Pollock “used to give his pictures conventional titles… but now he simply numbers them. Numbers are neutral. They make people look at a picture for what it is – pure painting.”

Jackson Pollock  Number 1A, 1948

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