Untitled: What’s in a Name?

August 3 – October 27, 2002

Emily S. Macey Gallery

This exhibition presents a group of artworks from the permanent collection that share an unusual distinction: either they lack a known title or the artists have deliberately assigned Untitled or a non-specific title to their artworks. Artists sometimes choose to do this for the same reason that many composers of classical music choose to number their symphonies rather than create a more expressive title. By choosing not to assign a title, the artist allows others to experience the artwork in a fresh way, as if each viewer is the first person to encounter this object.

Most of the artworks in this exhibition have their title officially recorded as Untitled. There are, however, variations of this among the artworks in this exhibition. Several of the works come from a series that the artists completed; while the artists assigned titles to the series, they chose not to assign a title to each work within the series. A few works have titles other than Untitled, but the titles only identify what the work is, such as Video/Print or Sculpture in Two Pieces, rather than titles that refer more descriptively to the artist’s intent in creating the works.

As a part of this exhibition, visitors are invited to become actively involved, not simply by looking at the artworks on display and discussing them with friends and family, but by sharing their ideas for titles for the artwork with other visitors. Located on two pedestals in the gallery are two pairs of “notebooks” with pages that correspond to each artwork on display. If a visitor believes that one or more of the artworks in the exhibition would benefit from a title he or she has created, that visitor may write that idea in one of the notebooks. At the end of each week, the museum staff will select the most creative and appropriate label for display along with the actual label for each work.