The 1990s in eleven "Date Paintings"
As one of the most important Conceptual artists, On Kawara features in most of the surveys on post-war art. This book, conceived in close collaboration with On Kawara himself, takes a very intimate form in comparison to many monographs published recently. This seems an appropriate manner in which to discover eleven paintings created over a decade, letting the viewer complete their reading with personal associations, historical events, or academic interpretations.
“Perhaps,” writes Thierry Davila in his text, “art is simply a particular way of taking time … So the work, the on-going creation is essentially a question of using time … ”
Seen from this perspective On Kawara has invented a simple and striking way to make art, by taking time, taking his time. He found a way to use the calendar to make a kind of “non-individual” art work. In his Date Paintings, time itself has become a piece of art. The work is pure realism, the existence of time put in painting, thus rendering it—up to a certain point—viewable and readable.
On Kawara (1932-2014) is arguably one of the most influential contemporary artist. Born in Japan, Kawara's first exhibitions include the first Nippon Exhibition, at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, in 1953, and at the Takemiya and Hibiya galleries the following year. The art of this forerunner conceptual artist
was first exhibited in New York—where he has lived since 1965—at Dwan Gallery in 1967, and his one-person exhibition “One Million Years” was shown in Düsseldorf, Paris, and Milan in 1971. Kawara's work was included in Kassel's Documentas 5 (1972), 7 (1982), and 11 (2002), in the Tokyo Biennale (1970), the Kyoto Biennale (1976), and the Venice Biennale (1976).
His work has been included in many conceptual art surveys from the seminal “Information show” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1970), to “Reconsidering the Object of Art: 1965-1975” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1995).
Personal exhibitions of his work have included the Centre Pompidou, Paris (1977); the Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1980); Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam (1991); the Dia Center for the Arts, New York (1993); the South London Gallery (2004); and the Dallas Museum of Art (2008).