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The Votes are In!

In my blog post "Change the Game" I looked at changing how I talk about my still life paintings so that the general public could understand what I'm trying to accomplish with my art. If you missed that post you can read it HERE.

As a quick recap, in it I suggested several different names for my paintings including: Inner Life Paintings, Storytelling Paintings, Symbolism Paintings, Narrative Paintings, and Self Awareness Paintings.

Several of you submitted feedback – thank you! Of those who responded the overall preferred term was "narrative".

To decide if that term fits I looked it up.

Here is how the famous Tate Museum in jolly old England defines narrative paintings:

Narrative art is art that tells a story. Much of Western art until the twentieth century has been narrative, depicting stories from religion, myth and legend, history and literature. Audiences were assumed to be familiar with the stories in question.

Note: As an example see the painting below by the Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1656) If you've never heard of her you aren't alone. She is one of the first female artists to pursue a career on the same terms as men despite being raped by a colleague of her father at age 17 and enduring a deeply horrific trial.

In the painting below Artemisia depicts the story of Judith, a pious young widow from the Jewish city of Bethulia, who beheads Holofernes, general of the Assyrian army that had besieged her city. Judith was seen as a hero in her time.

Anyway, the Tate continues its description of narrative paintings as follows:

From about the seventeenth century genre painting showed scenes and narratives of everyday life. In the Victorian age, narrative painting of everyday life subjects became hugely popular and is often considered as a category in itself (i.e. Victorian narrative painting).

In modern art, formalist ideas have resulted in narrative being frowned upon. However, coded references to political or social issues, or to events in the artist’s life are still commonplace. Such works are effectively modern allegories and generally require information from the artist to be fully understood. The most famous example of this is Pablo Picasso’s Guernica (below).

It seems that, at least in the art world, "narrative" means a big story, something epic and historical usually depicting humans. My paintings are much more internal and personal using symbols instead of people. Since the whole point of changing how I talk about my paintings is to help strangers understand what I'm doing with my art I'm not convinced "narrative" is the best option.

So for now I'm going to call my paintings "Symbolism" and see where that takes me. 😊

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