The question “How important is it to have dates on my art?” first arrived in my inbox from Catherine Arnold. Then, at my workshop in California last weekend, I got the same question. Must be others out there who want to know the answer so here it is.
Dating your artwork is critical if you’re interested in high-end galleries and museums. Curators are trained as art HISTORIANS. Strangely enough, historians like dates! They’re obsessive about dates!
Curators delve into the minutiae of an artist’s career. They build timelines and think about where a specific work came in the artist’s oeuvre and what that means.
If you’d like to see a retrospective of your art some day, you’ll date your work (with the year of completion) and keep track of it in an inventory. In other words, don’t just date the physical object, but keep a record of it as well. If you inventory your artwork as it's created, you'll also have a record of the months and days. The latter isn't as important, but it could end up being a bit of interesting data if you're quite prolific. And if you feel like putting the exact date (February 11, 2009 or 2/11/09) on the work, that's fine as well.
The date might not seem that important to you right now, but why risk it? Plan for the future and the big dreams.