Kunstwerk und Titel.

Betrachtungen einer Beziehung

  • Bernd Müller-Jacquier


At first glance, the relationship between work and title appears to be exhausted: for works of art are unique specimens that exist unchanged over long periods of time, just like their titles. They offer unchanged models for interpretation, and extensive elucidations – in particular of classical – works are available. But experience shows that the view of a work changes during social developments. Linguistic expressions in titles are also subject to constant change of meaning. Any clarification of the relationship between the work and the title must therefore be made subject to modifications in both the interpretation of the work and the interpretive resources of the title.

For this purpose, it is not surprising that a semiotic theory is used. With Rudi Keller’s “pragmatic sign theory”, a construct was chosen through which both sign systems, the visual and the textual language, become explicable and which ties the emergence of a sign to the (type of) interpretation (see chapter 2). Individual considerations of both areas of analysis reveal that interpretations of the work and the title proceed semioticaloay on different levels. They interact and merge to form a unit called “impression”.

This article is about the formation of such art impressions, more precisely: about the interplay between the interpretations of artworks and their titles. The basic hypothesis is that viewers of artworks use the titles as a resource for interpretation, and furthermore that artists (can) also use this experience to achieve or prevent possible impressions. In the form of selected case studies (see chapters 3 and 4 below), different interrelationships between works and their titles are illustrated to arrive at a synthesis of their manifold interactions.

Müller-Jacquier, B. (2023). Kunstwerk und Titel.: Betrachtungen einer Beziehung. Linguistik Online, 124(6), 31–62. https://doi.org/10.13092/lo.124.10714