I think art titles are incredibly important. For me, it helps to centre a piece and place it in a larger context, whether that is the world of the figures included in the art piece or the world of the creative who made it. With older pieces of art, particularly paintings, the titles can be simple and descriptive. I prefer this to when art has an abstract title, as that can draw me away from the piece as I grapple with why the title may have been selected. These more ‘basic’ titles pull me further into the piece and helps me see the mundane as something more exciting and beautiful.

One example of this is Degas’ “The Dance Class”. The title is a simple match to the piece, which depicts a group of girls being instructed before or during a dance lesson. The title paired with the painting allows my attention to focus on small details which conjure questions in my mind. Who are the girls? Are they younger and more amateur, waiting to be taught new skills, or are they professionals who are more confident in their dancing ability? “The Dance Class” implies that the class is an event, perhaps a highlight of the girls’ week. What do they spend the rest of their time doing? Who is the man lecturing to them?

In this case, the title of “The Dance Class” really encourages me to explore the piece and also appreciate the gorgeous way in which Degas captures the costumes, and the way they would move with the dancers.

What do you think?