On Kawara (b. 1933)
On Kawara (b. 1933)


On Kawara (b. 1933)
signed 'On Kawara' (on the reverse)
Liquitex on canvas and handmade cardboard box with newspaper clipping from The New York Post
13 x 17 1/8 in. (33 x 43.4 cm.)
Executed in 1988.
Art & Public, Geneva
Acquired from the above by the present owner
C. Höfer, On Kawara: Date Paintings in Private Collections, Cologne, 2009, pp. 28-29 (illustrated in color).

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

Defined by their temporal parameters, On Kawara's Date Paintings emerge as the ultimate relics of their time. With the dates of their creation as the primary subject, time emerges as the sole content and complete governing principle of their execution. Insisting on the profound truth of the calendar; each of Kawara's Date Paintings adheres to the self-imposed restriction that it be completed on the exact day delineated; if a painting is not finished by midnight, it is summarily destroyed. Executed in black and white, April. 19, 1988 emerges as the single time capsule of that particular day in the artist's life.

Stemming from the profound feeling of alienation and loss that Kawara experienced as an adolescent on the cusp of adulthood, Kawara's intense focus on the 'here and now' is a direct result of the cataclysmic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that the young artist reacted to painfully. Later describing the moment as an "awakening of his consciousness," this very realization led Kawara to embrace his part in this new reality-recording his existence with as much all-encompassing neutrality as possible. Informed by an existentialist bent of mind, Kawara's Date Paintings hone in on the present as the only knowable reality in a world filled with doubt. Each painting is a form of meditation for him, taking hours to complete with the utmost care and finest craftsmanship. Detaching each of his Date Paintings from the multitude of events (in his own life and the rest of the world) that took place on the particular date commemorated in painting, he reduces the twenty-four precious hours of the day to an impartial system. Captured in sanserif font and centered across a rectangular surface, Kawara's Date Paintings normalize time; the only variable that Kawara allows into this system is the language of the text, which is based on the country of each painting's conception. On acrylic-coated canvases that project two inches off the wall, the Date Paintings occupy space like objects and are indeed somewhat akin to repositories of an otherwise intangible, inconceivable and ephemeral substance: time.

More from First Open

View All
View All