G4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)
Game of the name : titles and titling of visual artworks in theoretical discussions from 1960 to 2015 (2020)
Game of the name : kuvataideteosten nimet ja nimeäminen teoreettisessa keskusteluissa vuodesta 1960 vuoteen 2015

Pirinen, M. (2020). Game of the name : titles and titling of visual artworks in theoretical discussions from 1960 to 2015 [Doctoral dissertation]. Jyväskylän yliopisto. JYU Dissertations, 310. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-8369-7

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Pirinen, Mikko

eISBN: 978-951-39-8369-7

Journal or series: JYU Dissertations

eISSN: 2489-9003

Publication year: 2020

Number in series: 310

Number of pages in the book: 178

Publisher: Jyväskylän yliopisto

Place of Publication: Jyväskylä

Publication country: Finland

Publication language: English

Persistent website address: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-8369-7

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel


In this dissertation titles and practices of titling of visual artworks are discussed from art historical, philosophical and theoretical perspectives. The history of titling visual artworks is discussed as a background of the theoretical study, and it focuses, in this study, on titling practices in Western art from the Renaissance to Late Modernism. The main emphasis is on artworks and titles that have already created discussions concerning titles. Despite the long history of the practice, the study of titles has often been ignored or completely neglected. Reasons for this neglect are various. Titles may have been ignored, because they were thought to have a neutral or innocent relationship to the subject matter of the artwork. On the other hand, there are artists and scholars who are anxious towards language (or any other supplements). For instance, Modernist Formalism focused on visual two-dimensionality, ignoring and neglecting any references to words or language. In art history, these anxieties are sometimes reflected in anxieties towards the linguistic turn and semiotics. Many contemporary theories, however, comprehend language as something that should not and even cannot be ignored. To evaluate different theories and theoretical discussions from 1960 to 2015, theories are reviewed by analysing types of functions attributed to titles in different theories. One conclusion is that theories and discussions of titles do not form a coherent theoretical object of study but rather fragmented whole. As a synthesis, functions of titles are distinguished into three main functions: designative, captioning, and social. Metaphor and narrative are concepts that have often been raised in discussions of word-image relations. The possibilities of applying these concepts to the title-artwork relation is investigated in the last chapter.

Keywords: fine arts; works of art; names; semiotics; metaphors; narration; theories of art; philosophy of art

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

Last updated on 2021-07-07 at 21:36