Created in 1971 at the height of her practice, Hanne Darboven's 2 K - 43 K is a carefully realised work of profound and obsessional conceptual minimalism. Known as one of the most important representatives of Minimal and Conceptual art in post-war Europe, the early years of the 1970s saw the artist receive critical acclaim for her first and second retrospectives held at the Westfalen Kunstverein Münster in 1971 and the Kunstmuseum Basel in 1974 respectively. In 1972, Darboven also participated in Documenta V, and exhibited at the XII Bienal de São Paulo the following year.
Comprising of 43 sheets of typing paper filled with numbers and letters drawn in ink, 2 K - 43 K is concerned with the presentation of the passageof time. Since the 1960s Darboven used geometrical constructions on graph paper to develop a system of notation to quantify units of time. In 1968 she began to use the sum of the digits of the day's date as the foundation of her work, what she referred to as the 'K-Value', named after the constructions and boxes (Konstruktion und Kästchen) which visualise the value. 2 K refers to the first day of the year (1+1+0+0), 43 is the last (31+12+0+0). This work therefore represents a year. Together, the pages make time into an almost tangible entity, covering the wall to provide an immersive experience that represents both social and individual states.
Although Darboven lived in almost total solitude, her work became an important part of a collective effort to replace the notion of art as an object with conceptual art, grounded in ideas and actions. Spending two years in New York in the late 1960s, her work thrived in the climate of conceptual and minimalist developments. Her work garnered support from Sol LeWitt, Lucy Lippard and Kasper König, and was included in exhibitions at in the Museum of Modern Art in 1970 and in the Guggenheim Museum in 1971.