The 1960’s marked the lift-off of Conceptual Art on both sides of the Atlantic. Japanese artist On Kawara was among this early generation of Conceptualists that included today’s pioneers such as Sol LeWitt, Joseph Kosuth and Yoko Ono. Approaching individuality and subjectiveness in ways that had never been visually depicted before, artists such as Kawara suggested an art practice that posed far from the time’s commonly shared aesthetic or emotional concerns.
In the Today series, his widely recognized black and white paintings of the date, Kawara embraces an unclaimed declaration of authorship yet juxtaposes a moment in time that is owned by no one other than the artist himself. An avid traveler, Kawara would use the language and numerical structure of the country from which he was painting that day. Many of the hand-painted Today pieces would take 8-9 hours to complete, becoming a direct representation of a day’s work.
The late artist, who always wanted to show his ‘date paintings’ in conversation with The Guggenheim’s spiral architecture–with the museum’s famous rotunda form providing a non-linear observation of time–has recently been commemorated by the museum with an exhibition titled On Kawara: Silence.
Want to learn more? Click here to watch a video featuring the curators of On Kawara: Silence.