How to name a painting + 4 tips

How to name a painting? When you finish your painting and you are in search for naming a painting it might require some reflection. Finding a title for your painting is not always an easy or a quick job. It might even happen that you will change the title of the artwork a long time after you have finished it (this happens to me sometimes)

But you don’t want your painting to become just a number in a catalogue. That’s the reason why naming a painting is important.

I think naming a painting or naming an artwork is like choosing the pedestal for your sculpture, or making the frame for your pastel drawing. Here also you will take your time because it is a part of the art work, it completes it in a certain way.

Why name a painting?

The first important reason for naming a painting is the identification of it. If you name the artwork it is like giving it its identity. And this may refer to the principal idea of what the artist wants to show.

Some artworks that never had a name or a title are still enigmas for curators and collectors. Even if the name of the artist is represented it always gives the possibility to doubt its origin.

But for the buyer, the title of artwork is not the most important aspect, for him it will always be the “instant love” feeling that will make him decide to buy an artwork.

How to name a painting + 4 tips

Normally this comes after you finished its creation and there are different options to do this. Here are 4 tips for you.

« Candle » Gerhard Richter (1983)

  • But you can also give a name that has nothing to do with the painting
« September » Gerhard Richter (2005)
  • You can focus on the emotion that the artwork gives you, or what the artwork expresses to the outside world
« The scream » Edvard Munch (1893)
  • If you have no ideas to name a painting you can start with creating a list of ideas. You can take a look at your painting and just write down all the words that cross your mind.

There aren’t exact rules for naming a painting, I think it’s a very personal process, different for everybody and it depends on your inspiration.

How do I proceed to name a painting ?

When I have to choose a name for the artwork I try to listen what comes to me in an intuitive way. This will help me to choose the one that fits with my art work.

Sometimes it is poetic, sometimes a simple description. Again, there are no exact rule.

Extraordinary histories of famous artists and the title of their painting

Surrealists often insinuated the name of the painting in reference to its image. The one had nothing to do with the other. This is exactly what surrealism stands for. They wanted to free creation from all constraint and logic. A funny example is.

« The treachery of images » René Magritte (1929)

A pipe is painted on the canvas, and beside he has written “This is not a pipe”. It is very easy to be confused. A lot of people called this painting “This is not a pipe”. He plays with the role of the title, here it becomes a part of the art work

« La belle féronière » Leonardo Da Vinci (1495)

This painting is known since the 19th century under this title. But a specialist in 16th century Italian painting at the Louvre explains that this title was originally given to a painting representing the portrait of the mistress of King François the first …

Until today the original title of the painting remains a mystery.

And sometimes the title isn’t important, Jean michel Basquiat‘s painting “No title” has become the sixth most expensive work ever sold at auction.

« No title » Jean-Michel Basquiat (1982)

This proves again that there are no rules and how you choose the title of artwork is a very personal process.

Thank you for reading my article « How to name a painting », I hope this article gave you some ideas to continue creating!


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