Sign of the Artist, the Artistic Sign – the Autonomy of the Artist’s Signature

Magdalena Janota-Bzowska, Ph.D.
(Museum of Literature, Warsaw; Polish Institute of World Art Studies)

Signature of an artwork usually means the signature of the author, their monogram or graphic sign put on the work. Such act of signing the oeuvre is most often the crowning of the entire creative process.

In the analysis of an artwork, it is interesting to see how the signature gets revealed: on the reverse side of the work, in a barely visible place, imperceptibly, or maybe to the contrary – as a consciously emphasized mark, contrasting with the work itself when it comes to colour, line or form and being an integral element of the composition. In this context a very interesting phenomenon characteristic for Japanese art is the act of composing paintings and graphics in such way that the mark identifying the artist is not only included, but also very distinct.

At the end of the 90s. Professor Wojciech Fangor initiated a cycle of works entitled “Signatures”. In this cycle the author used an individualized record of his name, completed with artistic means known from his previous artworks. A similar artistic activity is the tagging observed in street art. Tagging is related to the concept of marking and identifying the author with an executed artistic object. In some works one can conclude that the signature itself – the tag of the street writer – is an independent artwork in itself.