How to Appreciate Paintings #11: The label on the wall

Art exhibition in Singapore. ARTualize is the only art gallery in Singapore that lets you rent paintings for your home. Singapore artist Low Hai Hong looking at his oil painting on exhibit as part of his art exhibtion in an art gallery in Singapore.


The following five terms are found on most labels that accompany the painting on the wall (or the painting image on the screen): title, artist, medium, year, dimensions. 
Title refers to the name of the painting. It is usually the only other communication the artist has with the viewer besides the painting.  The title is mostly given by the artist, which he uses to tell the viewer what he wants the viewer to know about the painting: what the painting is about, what the painting is meant to be, what the painting wants to express or invoke.
Artist refers to the creator of the painting. Most artists will sign or imprint their names on the painting itself.
Medium refers to the material or technique by which the painting is created.  Common mediums include oil, watercolour, Chinese ink, calligraphy, acrylic.  The different mediums create entirely different types of paintings.  While the term medium may seem technical, it is a basic art term we need to know as part of our art appreciation.
Year refers to the year the painting was completed. Most artists will imprint the year on the painting itself.  When the painting was completed helps the viewer to put the painting in perspective – which part of the artist’s art journey and what the world and society was like, when the painting was made.
Dimensions refer to the size of the painting without the frame.  Dimensions are useful for commercial reasons, where the buyer can know how the painting fits into his house, but it plays a greater role when the viewer is not seeing the actual painting.  When the viewer sees a painting as an image, she cannot tell how big or small the painting is; a small painting has a very different impact from a large painting. Hence knowing the dimensions help the viewer to frame the painting properly.   
These five terms provide an identity to the painting and invaluable information for the viewer. 

How to appreciate paintings?  Understanding the label on the wall that is next to the painting helps us to appreciate the painting.

Learn more about how to appreciate paintings at

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