Looking back over the centuries I don't think titles were important to many artistst - it was the work itself that they expected to speak (or not!). However, our modern age is much more verbal - not necessarily appropriately and often not very well informed and frequently singularly lacking in erudition - nevertheless words pour from us in torrents!! I often laugh at the sports commenters: "he's in this to win! He really wanted to get that goal! She's practiced for this for years..." etc etc!! Comments, yes, but pithy, no.
One legitimate purpose of a title is simply to identify the work; it is helpful to have names for things. Many of us do have a "working title" as we create the piece. It's hard to think about "the thingie on the wall"! Working titles are usually quite literal as in "Green Houses on a Hill".
As I'm putting the quilt together I often have a list of possible titles up on the design wall; as the design gradually comes together my thoughts about it solidify until one title seems more apposite than the others. Sometimes, however, a piece goes out with the wrong name and has to come back for a renaming ceremony!! I remember one quilt I did where the principal color was red and it was of abandoned industrial buildings, so I called it Red Abandon. It was much later that I realised that the phrase brought to mind a very different picture: "she threw herself at him with red abandon!"
|Red Abandon (later renamed Elusive Beauty)|
While Untitled + a number is bland and meaningless to anyone other than the artist, an extremely cute title is also distasteful e.g."Mommy's Little Darlings" sickly sweet and cloying - Cleopatra did not cloy and neither should we! Of course if the quilt so titled was a picture of gin bottles such a title might be rather appropriate!
Even more annoying are totally irrelevant misleading titles. A few years ago I had a show with an artist whose pieces all had these really long titles: "She done her Man Wrong When She Left Him for Hairy Harry" or "Tell Me Your Secrets and Ask me your questions" etc I looked and looked at her quilts which were all based on the same pattern (a "Broken Dishes" variation) and finally asked her where in the quilt were the secrets, or Hairy Harry? Oh, she replied, the title has nothing to do with the quilt, it's just a line I like from a popular song!! Talk about feeling cheated! She made me, the viewer, try to make a connection between title and work and it was all a trick!
I do think that it's absolutely fine to have a somewhat ambiguous title which leaves room for the viewer to interpret the images differently. For example you could make a piece based on the effects of light as I did in this quilt:
So - what do you think about choosing a title for a quilt? Is Untitled #6 enough? How explicit should a title be?
And, if you have been, thanks (as always!) for reading! Elizabeth
PS I'm happy to say I've graduated from crutches to The Boot - though I'm so impressed with my new arm muscles I think I should do a little crutchercise each day!!