Why do artists date their paintings on the front of the canvas?

Works Found @ Billy Shire Fine Arts
Image by JohnnyRokkit via Flickr

By Tom Pergola

In my 30 plus years in the fine art world, I’ve asked many artists this question and the usual response I get is “I don’t know, I see it on other paintings”.  Personally I don’t see any reason for it.  All it tells the potential buyer is that it hasn’t sold in 2, 5, or 10 years or whatever the case may be.

The customer really doesn’t want to hear that nobody has been interested or purchased it for a long period of time.  Why do they even have to know when it was painted.  What’s the difference?   They may ask themselves, “Why hasn’t this painting sold yet, am I doing the right thing?”  This might turn him or her off and ruin the sale.

If an artist does insist on dating their paintings I suggest they do it on the back so it’s not in plain sight.  The only thing that should be on the front of a paint is a clear signature.  Some high end artists now even feel that it’s “cool” not  to put a signature on a painting or possibly on the back of the canvas only.  It’s the new trend.

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One response to “Why do artists date their paintings on the front of the canvas?

  1. I’ve (almost) always signed and dated my work on the back. I guess I’m trendy…

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