On Kawara

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Today Series date painting, 1966-2014.

On Kawara (December 24,, 1932 – June 27, 2014) was a Japanese conceptual artist, who lived in New York City from 1965.


  • In a certain sense the phrase "I am still alive" can never be sent as it cannot be received by the addressee instantaneously...It is only valid at the very instant that it is being written, and in the very next second it no longer is a certainty. If the addressee receives the telegram a few hours or days later and reads it, he merely knows that the sender was alive at the very instant the telegram was sent. But when he is reading the telegram, he is totally uncertain if the content of the text is still relevant or if it is still valid The difference, the small displacement between sending and receiving, is that particular unseizable glimpse of the presence of the artist. Likewise, it is a sentence of self-reassurance..."I am still alive." The activity of telling oneself and the world "I am still alive."
    • On Kawara, "1970 Telegram," as cited in: "On Kawara Today," By greg on July 10, 2014 8:27 PM.

Quotes about On Kawara[edit]

  • His most famous work, the Today Series (1966–2014), is an accumulation of thousands of "Date Paintings". In these works the date on which the painting was made is meticulously painted in white sans serif text, at the centre of a canvas coated with flat colour, with the month spelled out in the language of the place where it was made (unless the Roman alphabet was not used for the first language, in which case Kawara resorted to Esperanto). The paintings were produced in more than 112 cities worldwide. If a Date Painting was not finished by the end of the day, by midnight, he would destroy it.

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