Museum Hours
Thu: 1 PM–8 PM
Fri–Mon: 10 AM–5 PM
Tue–Wed: Closed
200 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

What Leo Valledor’s Titles Tell Us

Objective: Examine Leo Valledor’s use of titles to understand how language and image work together to create an aesthetic experience.

Portrait of Leo Valledor.

Common Core State Standards 

RL.9.4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone.

6.VA:Re7.2. Analyze ways that visual components and cultural associations suggested by images influence ideas, emotions, and actions.

6.VA:Re8. Interpret art by distinguishing between relevant and non-relevant contextual information and analyzing subject matter, characteristics of form and structure, and use of media to identify ideas and mood conveyed.

6.VA:Cn11. Analyze how art reflects changing times, traditions, resources, and cultural uses.

W.9.1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.



1. Introduce the activity to the students and have students pair up (5 min.). Here’s a possible opening:

Leo Valledor’s son, Rio, once wrote, “[My father’s] titles were an artform of their own, alluding to culture . . .  inspiration . . . music . . . or just wordplay.” (R. Valledor 2005).

Write a few of Valledor’s titles on the board and then read them out loud:

  • Solidude
  • Bluzing
  • Okasian
  • Zam

Do these titles make you wonder what the paintings look like? This activity will allow you to think about the power of Valledor’s titles: How do they enhance your experience of his paintings?

2. Before showing the students any images of Valledor’s artwork, have them work in their pairs to complete Part I of the worksheet “What Titles Tell Us.” Allow partners to read the titles out loud and confer about what the titles might mean. (15 min.)

3. Show the students Leo Valledor’s WikiArt page to match the titles with the artworks. Have the paired students look closely at the paintings for the titles they discussed; then have them discuss the questions in Part II of the worksheet. (25 min.)

4. Assign for homework a reflection (one to two pages) in which each student writes about a specific Valledor painting and its title. (5 min.)

Let each student choose which painting they want to write about.

Questions for students to consider in the reflection:

  • How do the painting and the title work together to create an experience for the viewer? How would you describe that experience? What happens in your mind as you try to understand the painting and title?
  • Should a viewer read the title of a painting before looking at the painting closely, or should they first look at the painting and then read the title? Why?

5. Next class period: share out.

In a large-group discussion, have the students share what they discovered from studying Valledor’s paintings and titles. Were there any “aha” moments? Do they think a viewer should look at the title before or after looking at a painting? What does Valledor reveal about himself through his titles?

Wrap-Up Question: What do we now understand about the power of titles? What should an artist think about when deciding on the title for an artwork?

Download the teacher packet from sidebar above for complete instructions.

For more lessons based on Leo Valledor, visit the artist’s teacher packet.