Art headlines – what’s in a painting’s title?

Think of Damian Hirst’s “For the love of God” the image may or may not come to mind of a skull studded with diamonds. Whatever you might think the artwork itself, the name provokes thought. I can’t claim to be a Damian Hirst fan myself but you have to admire his promotional skills. That art courts controversy is nothing new, but it’s that very controversy which catapults such artists into the media limelight, rightly or wrongly. Would it have evoked the same reaction had it been called “Diamond skull” or (my personal favourite) “Glitterball”? Quite possibly, but I think the nuances would have been very different. One suggests laziness whilst the other a crass indifference to death and mortality. It’s mocking in it’s implication. This is one piece where the title makes it an artwork, as well as voicing the thoughts of many who view it for the first time.

I’m not going to go into a debate about the value of these types of art at the moment – another day perhaps. Suffice it to say I am more concerned by someone buying this artwork than I am by the fact it was ever made. I question whether it’s really an original concept – I remember seeing gold skulls with emerald eyes as keyrings as a child and many other similar trinkets. But…another day!

Until recently I never bothered with titles but I’m increasingly seeing there importance. It’s hard with some pictures to come up with more than the visually obvious e.g. “Buckingham Old Gaol” It’s functional, it says what it is on the tin! Others evoke nostalgic memories “Ewan on a swing” or “Party balloons” But supposing I’d called them “Striving for the unobtainable” and “Essence of life”? Those titles make you think! Probably that I’ve finally lost the plot and I’m living in cloud cuckoo land, but THEY MAKE YOU THINK! Maybe that’s what defines a work of art from a painting? Help, I think I might be learning to appreciate Damian Hirst’s art?

Naaa, it’ll take more than that to convince me!

So, I will leave you with a semi abstract piece.


The real question is, what will be the title? “Naked Woman standing and stretching” or “Vulnerability?” I know what I think, but let’s leave it in the air for now!

About CathyReadArt

Artist creating abstract art using mixed media. I believe there should be beauty in art, but sometimes it takes an artist to show others what is truly beautiful.
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