January 6, 2019
Artist signatures first became prevalent during the early Renaissance, when individual creativity gained a foothold. Signing art was the perfect way to differentiate one’s talent and stand out from the less creative peers. It was Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528), the first who became famous for protecting his “AD” trademark. He even went to court in Nuremberg and Venice to save his authorship.
The trend he set continued, and signatures have become part of the artistic process, and also a way of saying that the artwork was fully complete. Signatures then were also used to record time, place and medium. For example, Ben Nicholson (1894 – 1982) recorded much information on the back of his boards, such as title, date, colours used, and the shipping address of his works.
There are many types of signatures and symbols artists have been using to protect their trademarks. There are also signatures which are made almost invisible. The only way one could detect them is putting the artwork under the light. These variations of signing complete works are beneficial. These give a chance to date works. For example, Picasso in his early years used to include his middle name as P R (or Ruiz) Picasso, which he later dropped and changed to a more artistic version. During his Cubist period he stopped signing in the front, whereas later on, he included an underlining dash, a symbol of completion.
I use multiple signatures on my works. I sign my creations in the front using a symbol of my initials (as you can see below), but I also add my proper signature, the year when I completed the work, and the title of my art on the back of my papers and canvases.
Signatures are important, especially these days, but in the end not essential. However, it is always a good thing to have them on the art in which you invest. I certainly favour signed over unsigned art. So should you.