for On Kawara’s date paintings

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Of course you know about On Kawara’s date paintings. You’ve probably seen them in isolation, as part of a museum’s permanent collection, a rectangular canvas in black or gray or blue, adorned simply with the date on which it was painted. Seen alone, each piece necessarily points to that particular point in time. But when a large sample of his forty year practice of creating them is collected in a single exhibition, they’re mind-blowing. Especially when they’re combined with…

  • Twelve years of typewritten sheets, collected in binders stamped “I Met”, each detailing the names of the people he met on a single day.
  • Twelve years of maps, collected in binders stamped “I Went” each outlined with the path he took on a single day through the city he was in.
  • Hundreds of postcards sent to friends, each stamped with the time he got up that morning.
  • Hundreds of telegrams, sent to friends and dealers, with the simple statement: I AM STILL ALIVE.

Kawara died in 2014, after collaborating with Guggenheim curators on the exhibition. Go see it if you can.

Labs @ Medium. Avid reader, long time blogger.

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