As you step into the gallery, you notice an interesting piece of art hanging on the wall.

"I like the piece, but what's with the title?" you ask the docent. "I'm used to obscure titles in modern art, but not this obscure. Normally the name has at least something to do with the subject."

"Sadly, the name of this piece has been lost. The artist did say it would become clear with careful study, but I've been too busy fighting the vandals in the gallery to take the time myself. Maybe you can help find its true title?"

The final answer is a single word that is related to the puzzle.
(Additional tags will be added when they no longer spoil the solution path.)

Puzzle Image

Hint 1:

If we're being pedantic, the black sections should really be a dark brown. I blame the camera I used to take the picture of the painting.

Hint 2 (v3.0):

"The frame goes specifically with this painting," the docent muses. "It was provided by the artist themself."

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Fantastic puzzle! $\endgroup$ – LeppyR64 May 17 at 11:36

As PiIsNot3 found,

the letters by themselves make a word search of famous artists: the unused letters there spell "submarine".

The next step is to

analyse the image by breaking it up into the cyan, magenta, and yellow components (as paint colors would be made). This can be done by adding a red, green, or blue multiplicative filter over the image:
red / cyan channel green / magenta channel blue / yellow channel
Each of these seems to be made up of a bunch of "bars" of different lengths.

There's one more important piece of information:

the frame's negative space has 4 length-1 bars, 3 length-2 bars, 2 length-3 bars, and one length-4 bar (containing the missing title).

This last piece of information is the most important: it hints at

the logic puzzle genre known as "Retrograde Battleships". In a normal Battleships puzzle, the given set of ships (the bars around the outside) must be placed in the grid so that no two are adjacent (even diagonally). (There are usually clues that identify specific cells as ship pieces or water, and more clues that tell how many ship pieces are in a row or column.)

In a Retrograde Battleships puzzle, the grid is divided up into possible locations for ships, and some of the locations must be chosen to fit all of the ships in (again, without touching, even diagonally).

So, with that information,

Each color channel forms a Retrograde Battleships puzzle. The solutions are:

red solutiongreen solutionblue solution

And finally,

we use the word "submarine": the smallest ships in the standard Battleships fleet are called submarines. Looking at the submarines in each puzzle, we find that they're all different:
submarines overlaid

and the letters in those positions anagram to DREADNOUGHTS, which must be the title!

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Ah, I had seen those interesting patterns from analyzing the color channels, but I didn't make the connection to that puzzle type. Nice work! $\endgroup$ – PiIsNot3 May 17 at 4:19


One word that can be extracted is

submarine, though that’s not the final solution as it’s not 12 characters long as required.

The piece can be interpreted as

a word search without the word list, where each word is a famous artist. I was able to find 11 of them: POLLOCK, KAHLO, MATISSE, RODIN, PICASSO, MUNCH, WARHOL, O’KEEFFE, MONET, VAN GOGH, and DALI. The remaining letters spell out the (tentative) answer.

The piece, with the mechanism applied to it:


The only thing I don’t get is

the colors at the corners of each letter square. Perhaps we’re supposed to connect letters together based on similar colors, like a jigsaw? Or maybe that’s just a red herring, and we’re only supposed to focus on the letters? Either case, at least this solution is one step towards finding the final, correct answer.

  • $\begingroup$ There are still additional steps that need to be taken. Note that the missing title is 12 characters, not 9. $\endgroup$ – Aranlyde May 15 at 7:28
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, so it’s not just a placeholder... I’ll have to think this further then $\endgroup$ – PiIsNot3 May 15 at 7:30
  • $\begingroup$ The only way I can think of for linking this solution to the colors is rot13(“fhoznevar” orvat jbeqcynl sbe yrggref gung ner qverpgyl haqrearngu oyhr gvyrf), but so far that has proven fruitless. Maybe I’ll just wait for someone else to pick up where I left off $\endgroup$ – PiIsNot3 May 15 at 7:43
  • $\begingroup$ Have you tried rot13(svygrevat gur eto pbybef?) $\endgroup$ – u_ndefined May 16 at 9:21
  • $\begingroup$ @u_ndefined I've tried several variations of that, including rot13(nggrzcgvat gb hfr PZLX vafgrnq bs ETO), but so far nothing has stood out to me. From hint 2, it appears that we're supposed to rot13(svaq cvrprf bs gur tevq gung svg va gur zvffvat fcnprf ba gur senzr), and this method does not achieve that purpose, at least not from what I've tried. $\endgroup$ – PiIsNot3 May 17 at 4:13

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