Stick with it!

About three million college students will approach graduation day wondering what the future holds. As if news about the sputtering economy and uncertain job prospects were not depressing enough, many will also hear from well-meaning relatives, “What are you going to do with that degree?” Uncle Henry may give a free pass to the biology, economics, and chemistry majors, but not to those who pursued creative writing, visual arts, theater, design, dance or music.

The data come from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), a research effort led by Indiana and Arizona State Universities, supported by the Surdna Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and others. Respondents were at different stages of their careers. They came from more than 150 arts programs from a diverse set of institutions.

Description Labels

How to read an art label

If you ever visited an art museum you might have noticed that a label with several lines of text is usually displayed near each work of art. These labels can tell us a lot about what we are seeing. Museums usually display the same kind of information with art shown on their websites too. Included with the sample label below is an explanation of what each line of information means.

Jamie Wyeth, (born, 1946)
Kalounna in Frogtown , 1986
Oil on Masonite
36 x 50 1/8 in. (91.4 x 127.3 cm)
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1992.163

aacl-how-to-label-aJamie Wyeth—The artist’s name. If the artist’s name is not known, sometimes the label will indicate that.

aacl-how-to-label-b (born 1946)—The year the artist was born. If an artist has died, his or her year of death is included too. Sometimes the artist’s nationality or the country in which he or she was born or died are included as well.

aacl-how-to-label-c Kalounna in Frogtown— The title of the artwork. Sometimes the artist creates the title for his or her artwork, as Jamie Wyeth did for this painting. When the artist’s title isn’t known, which is very common, a museum curator (the person who helps to create and study the museum’s collection) may develop the title.

aacl-how-to-label-d 1986—The year that the artwork was made or completed.

aacl-how-to-label-eOil on Masonite—The medium or materials that the artist used to create the artwork. Here the materials include oil paint and Masonite (a type of board made of compressed wood fibers).

aacl-how-to-label-f Image: 36 x 50 1/8 in. (91.4 x 127.3 cm)—The dimensions of the work of art. For paintings, the height and length are provided. For objects like sculptures, the width is included too. This information is especially helpful when looking at art on websites or in books, as it’s hard to understand the scale of an artwork without seeing it in person.

aacl-how-to-label-g Frame: 41 7/8 x 56 in. (106.4 x 142.2 cm)—Sometimes the dimensions of the frame for the work of art are also provided.

aacl-how-to-label-h Terra Foundation for American Art —The owner of the artwork.

aacl-how-to-label-i Daniel J. Terra Collection—This part of the label explains how the artwork became part of the collection that now owns it. “Daniel J. Terra Collection” tells us that the painting was owned by Daniel J. Terra before it became part of the Terra Foundation for American Art’s collection. Sometimes one person or a family will donate works of art to a museum. Other times several individuals come together to help museums purchase a work of art. An artwork may also be on loan from another museum or private collection.

aacl-how-to-label-j 1992.163—The object number (this is sometimes also called an accession number). Each work of art is given a unique number when it enters a museum collection. This number helps the museum with its record keeping. The number usually contains the year when the artwork entered the collection. In this example, the painting became part of the collection in 1992, and was the 163rd artwork to join the collection in that year.

Exhibition Labels for Artwork


Wayne-Thiebaud---De-Young-1 label


There are a few questions I constantly receive, and one of the most common is how to label artworks in an exhibition. The truth is, there is no single standard format, though most labels include the same key elements. I have written a previous post on the subject, How to Label Artwork in an Exhibition. Below, I have expanded on some of the specifics, as well included more examples of artwork labels.

The most standard information included on artwork labels is:

1. The artist’s name
This one is pretty straightforward!

2. The title of the work
Depending on your preference, the title of the artwork can be plain, in italics, or bolded. Italics are often used to differentiate the title from the rest of the information, as well referencing english grammar rules for titles. The title could also be in bold as a different method of differentiating it from the remainder of the information.

3. The date of the artwork
Generally, the date of an artwork is the year that it was completed. Sometimes, if a work has been continued over a long span of time and the artist would like to acknowledge that, multiple years can be included (for example, 2012-2014). If the date of the artwork is unknown (usually for historical works), “circa” is included: for example, c. 1919.

4. The size of the artwork
The measurement of an artwork usually refers to the outer size of the canvas, paper, or other material that is the base of an artwork. Unless the frame is an integral part of the work itself, its measurements should not be considered the size of the artwork. The standard is to list the height, then the width. The depth, if applicable, would be listed third. For example, 57 x 46 x 3 inches. Sometimes, there is no specific dimensions for a work (for example, video work, or work which changes size depending on different installation circumstances). In the case of no specific dimensions, it is appropriate to list dimensions variable.

4.a The duration of the work
For durational artworks such as video or audio, this format is often used to list their duration: 00:00:00 (hours, minutes, seconds). You can also simply list 1 hour, two minutes, or however long your work is. It is not absolutely necessary to list the duration of work, however works of this nature are often catalogued in this manner.

5. The medium of the artwork
This seems straightforward, although sometimes it can be difficult to decide what should be listed and what should be left out. It is really the artist’s choice how detailed they would like to be. For example, you can list your medium as simply as possible (for example, oil on linen). You can include more detail, if you feel it is integral to the work (for example, gel medium, tea, sand, dirt, grass on found canvas).

6. The price or the credit listing
Should you be selling your work and you would like to include a price on your label, place it at the bottom. If the work is not for sale, you can leave this area blank. If the work is loaned, this is where you would credit the lender. For example, Courtesy of Cleopatra. 

7. Additional information
Museums or larger establishments showing artists of historical significance often list further information on their labels. This could be the birth year and death year of the artist (if applicable), the museum’s own cataloguing number for the work, and a credit to the donor of the work if applicable.


Below are some visual examples of artwork labels:

For a loaned artwork:

Roy Lichenstein
Acrylic and oil paint on canvas
68 x 160 inches
Courtesy of the Tate Museum

For an artwork for sale:

Paul Cézanne
The Card Players
Oil on canvas
38 x 51 inches

For a durational artwork:

Joan Jonas
Double Lunar Dogs
24 minutes
Courtesy of MoMA

Bruce Nauman
Two color video monitors, two laser disc players, two laser discs (color, sound), and metal table
Dimensions variable
Courtesy of MoMA

The original post on this subject How to Label Artworks in an Exhibition includes tips and ideas for physically creating your labels.

Whenever you visit galleries, take note of how they label their artwork. What do you think looks best? What do you find to be the most effective method for labelling artwork? 

Lightwell and Brick Haus Exhibitions

Hi Everyone,

Please check the Dropbox folder- there are two new folders at the very top (aaaBrick Haus & aaaLightwell).  Find which piece of yours has been selected by our juror, Shaun Griffiths.  The folder name is the location the piece will be exhibited in.
Have that piece ready to install on Tuesday morning when our class meets.  For Brick Haus people, we also have Friday morning as well, if anyone’s installation requires more time.
Reception dates are:
Thursday 3/24 for the Lightwell
Saturday 3/26 for Brick Haus.
It’s up to you if your group wants to decide on a show name, and also what kind of food you would like to have at the opening (I can use the class budget to purchase food).  You can meet as a group or communicate via email, or assign a exhibition coordinate to make those decisions.
I hope everyone is enjoying their spring break! See you Tuesday morning.

Some links from our speaker, Alexis Grabowski

Wave Farm, NY:
(have residencies where you work closely with specific artists, sometimes in new technologies, performance)
For Artists working at the intersection of Art, Science and Ecology:
Arctic Circle Residency for artists interested in scientific expeditions
Pioneerworks: NY Studio Residency with access to a 3D printer, laser cutter, CNC machine, drum scanner, dark room, risogrpah, and plotter:
Buildatron 3d-printing residency: