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On Kawara
Today Series date painting at Chicago Art Institute.
Birth name Kawara On
Born January 12, 1933 (1933-01-12) (age 77)
Kariya, Aichi, Japan[1]
Nationality Japanese
Field Visual art, Conceptual art

On Kawara (河原温 Kawara On ?) (born January 2, 1933) is a Japanese conceptual artist living in New York City since 1965. He has shown in many solo and group exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale in 1976. He is represented by David Zwirner, New York.

Since 1966 he has made a long series of "date paintings" (the Today series), which consist entirely of the date on which the painting was executed in simple white lettering set against a solid background. If Kawara is unable to complete the painting on the day it was started he immediately destroys it. Other series of works include the I Went and I Met series of postcards sent to his friends detailing aspects of his life, another series of postcards, I Got Up At, rubber-stamped with the time he got up that morning, and a series of telegrams sent to various people bearing the message "I AM STILL ALIVE".

Much like the Today series, Kawara uses a number of days followed by date the work was executed as his life-dates. So the piece entitled Title at the National Gallery of Art has Kawara's life-dates as 26,697 (January 27, 2006) which, when calculated, place Kawara's birthdate at December 24, 1932.

Kawara does not give interviews nor comments about his work.

On Kawara is represented in Paris by Yvon Lambert Gallery[2].

Influences on Contemporary Artists

  • onKawaraUpdate (v2) (2007) by American art collective MTAA updates and automates (via software) the process-oriented nature of On Kawara's date paintings. [3]
  • American artist Eric Doeringer recreated On Kawara's I Got Up project[4] and created a Today painting with his own birthday as part of his Bootleg series. [5]
  • British artist David Michael Clarke reworked On Kawara's Today series as Today Marriages 1969 - 1999 (2001). [6]
  • In Return to Sender (2004) British artist Jonathan Monk co-opts On Kawara's I Got Up At (1968-1979). [7]
  • I am Still Alive is an installation piece after On Kawara by European artist Martin John Callanan. [8]
  • Start it is a license to practice On Kawara's individual moments by German artist Stefan Hager. [9]
  • 891 (2006) by Belgian artist Kurt Duyck is a Blog Art tribute to On Kawara's I Got Up At. [10]
  • On Kawara is not Dead (2006) by Belgian artist Danny Devos is a Blog Art tribute to On Kawara's I am Still Alive. [11]
  • The Japanese artist Tatsuo Miyajima's use of numbers is a product of On Kawara's influence on him. [12]
  • In his multipart Rwanda Project, executed between 1994 and 2000 in response to the Rwandan genocide, Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar sent Rwandan tourist postcards to his friends around the world, mailed from neighboring Uganda, bearing the names of people who he'd encountered while travelling in Rwanda, reversing the self-referential content of On Kawara's work 'I am Still Alive'; "Jyamiya Muhawenimawa is still alive!", "Caritas Namazuru is still alive!", "Canisius Nzayisenga is still alive!" etc.
  • is a micro-blogging web-site, which is devoted to honor On Kawara's work and simultaneously offers users to document and to inform about daily accomplishments, based on the question "What have you achieved today?" and optionally illustrated by a picture. [13]
  • The On Kawara Code (2008) by the Canadian artist Timothy Comeau reproduces Kawara's date paintings and One Million Years books using web-programming. [14]


  1. ^ "On Kawara - EB online" (in English). Retrieved 2009-04-04.  
  2. ^ Yvon Lambert
  3. ^ M. River & T. Whid, 2007 onKawaraUpdate (v2).
  4. ^ Eric Doeringer, 2008-09 [1].
  5. ^ Eric Doeringer, 2005 [2].
  6. ^ David Michael Clarke, 2001 David Michael Clarke.
  7. ^ Christy Lange, Tate Etc. issue 4, 2005 Bound to Fail.
  8. ^ Martin John Callanan, 2004 I am Still Alive.
  9. ^ Stefan Hager, november 23, 2004 Start it.
  10. ^ Kurt Duyck, 2006 891.
  11. ^ Danny Devos, 2006 On Kawara is not Dead.
  12. ^ Aaron Kerner, 2007 The Depth of Memory Part 2: An interview with Katsushige Nakahashi.
  13. ^ Rakawa team, 2008
  14. ^ T. Comeau, 2008 The On Kawara Code.

External links



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