657-admin - 01.05.18

Title Fights: The art of naming an art show

Art News: Grueling but fun

Generating a title for a museum show can involve curators, directors and publicists, reports Art News. It can “be grueling, it can be fun, and sometimes take years to find the right one”. The paper has talked to industry stalwarts about their naming secrets.

“The title is your initial marketing hook,” says David Rubin, curator of contemporary art at the San Antonio Museum of Art, advising you to start with “a cliché everybody knows or a sexy hook,” followed by a colon and a fuller explication.

However, Arnold Lehman, director of the Brooklyn Museum, has issues with the colon:

“The long-standing algorithm—part of the title to the left of the colon, part to the right—doesn’t always seem to work anymore. What people are really getting away from is a title like ‘Treasures of…’ or ‘Masterpieces from…’

Art Newspaper: To colon or not to colon

Should a title be active or passive? Be with or without a colon? The Art Newspaper takes us through the “curatorial pitfalls and political landmines” that can linger in a title, quoting Kevin Tucker, the chief curator at the High Museum in Atlanta:

“We’re all aware of the challenge of exhibition titles. We’re not always willing to break out of those typical didactic structures. But as we move to a more sophisticated consumer of art and media, we have to do something that goes beyond what we’ve been doing in the past.”

Social media is actually not a key consideration in picking a title, because an exhibition will often have a separate hashtag. It is on the street banner that conciseness is a top priority, explains John Giurini, the assistant director for public affairs at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, to The Art Newspaper:

“At the end of the day, every curator wants their exhibition to be well received. Nobody wants to create an exhibition that no one understands or that—god forbid—has a title that turns people off. We want to make sure there’s a little bit of—for lack of a better word—sexiness to it.”

Rebecca Uchill: The lazy curator’s option

If you’d rather just avoid the think altogether, you can just use MIT professor Rebecca Uchill’s Random Exhibition Title Generator, which will give you useful titles such as “Whither Dilettantes: Queers and the Status Quo” and “After the Extravaganza: Locality and Change”.