1973 (4)



On Kawara's American road-trip (continued).


STOP 11: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

November 13, 1973. Arrive.
November 14, 1973. Visit?
November 15, 1973. Date Paint.
November 16, 1973. Visit?
November 17, 1973. Depart.


Was this On Kawara's first time in California? A bit of sight-seeing might explain the relatively low productivity. Just the one Date Painting in a stay that stretched over five days. Here it is:

ccLdrvIpQRqSx1jYNVCShQ_thumb_d66a
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Below is the postcard for the next day, which wasn't a Date Painting day.


SjPMG6LSTV++Pn6vdJn48A_thumb_d670
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

The postcard places On (and Hiroko?) at the Holiday Lodge on 1631 West Third Street. I don't suppose that will still be there, but let's investigate.

It
is there, and it's still trading under the Holiday Lodge name.

2T4DJ+tMSYSsRWvGNXRe1g_thumb_d6ca

Below is a detail from the day's I WENT. I've had a quick look via Google in the downtown area, between Broadway and Main Street, but I have nothing to report. Loft spaces seem to be advertised everywhere.

Xdc6wQ1iRP6yemuI++au%g_thumb_d67c
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

The main thing I take away from the above map is the red writing on the left edge of the map. 'La Cienega Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard'. The first of these roads is and was the centre of the L.A. art world. Riko Mizuno was very important to artists in Los Angeles. In 1966, she opened Mizuno opened Gallery 669 on La Cienega Boulevard, which is also where Claire Copley, daughter of William Copley, recipient of some 1968 I GOT UP postcards, had an enterprising gallery. By 25 December, Claire Copley herself would be receiving postcards, so perhaps On Kawara met her on this trip. By 25 December, Konrad Fischer would no longer be receiving postcards, so I must attempt to say more about him while I have the opportunity.

Here he sits in his Dusseldorf gallery. Awaiting the daily postcard from On Kawara? Postcards that he would later lend to Kasper
König so that they could be included in On Kawara: Horizontality/verticality. In this way the whole world came to be informed about the I GOT UP series. Well, no, not the whole world, just an art loving bubble.

tPC6Fpa4Tw+5aWSlVYPZaA_thumb_d67b
Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder.

Let's say something else about postcards. The use of them as private view invitations, which also served as a record of the gallery's work and the artists who exhibited there, was regarded by Konrad Fischer as one of his inventions.

Here is the card for his 1975 show of On Kawara, which consisted entirely of paintings made in 1973, the year under discussion.


g7aHsUtlQKOuT+XL2sH7sg_thumb_d6b7
Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder.

The significance of this show carries forward to the present day. For in Candida Hofer's book there are no fewer than five collections pictured which feature the above paintings. And only one collection that features a date in 1973 that falls outside this list (May 25, 1973). The latter belongs to a Brussels collector who would seem to have made a special effort to buy a Date Painting from each year between 1968 and 1979. That is, the length of time I WENT, I GOT UP and I MET went on. Respect to that anonymous collector. As for the rest, they simply bought what Konrad Fisher offered to them on a plate. The roll of shame (relatively speaking) reads:

July 1, 1973 Hans Bohning Collection, Cologne, Germany

Jan 8, 1973; Jan 12, 1973
July 3, 1973; July 6 1973 Herbert Collection, Ghent, Belgium

Jan 9, 1973; Jan 11, 1973 Andre Goeminne Collection, Nazareth, Belgium

Jan 10, 1973
July 9 1973 Private Collection, Deurle, Belgium

Jan 14, 1973
July 23, 1973; July 28, 1973 Private Collection, Lauphein, Germany

In other words, a single show of 16 paintings put on by Konrad Fischer in 1975 almost entirely accounts for the European distribution of the Date Paintings that On Kawara made in 1973. Presumably the vast majority of those 85 paintings still belong to the Million Years Foundation and are stored in New York. Including all the ones made during the 1973 road-trip across the States. Those road-trip paintings are an exhibition waiting to happen, in my opinion. 2023 would be the 50th anniversary of the making of them.



STOP 12: SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

November 17, 1973. Arrive.
November 18, 1973. Sightsee?
November 19, 1973. Sightsee?
November 20, 1973. Date Paint.
November 21, 1973. Date Paint.
November 22, 1973. Date paint
November 23, 1973. Depart


On Kawara made three date Paintings in San Francisco. This was the third of them:



SdVV7cJWQxGisEilnq2DmA_thumb_d66b
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Here is the postcard from the second day of Date Painting in SF:

vyw6DYTBR+WKq5umJ6zOQQ_thumb_d671
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

I suspect that a mistake has been made by Kasper König's team in the pairing of image with message in this case, as there is no sign of the Golden Gate Bridge in the picture.

The Richelieu Hotel has changed its name or was bought out at some point. From an unknown year until 2019, it was trading as The Opal.

65Uqw7H2Q2qvehKRQrF9bQ_thumb_d6cf

But The Opal is no more. The property has been bought by Courtyard by Marriott. The same hotel group that now owns the hotel on the site where the Kawaras stayed in Pittsburgh and Boston. (I seem to be assuming that Hiroko was present once more. For the course of this road trip she has come and gone in my mind.)

WdQRg36KRtWyebPBJr%uhA_thumb_d6ce

November 21 was a Date Painting day, but the following detail from I WENT suggests that some sightseeing was done.


AOGnz9HAQV+5T1IY%qtwHw_thumb_d672
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

The route taken by the red biro suggests that at one stage - near Russian Hill Park, towards the top of the map, where the vehicle that the Kawaras were in completes a square - they had the same view down to the sea as was to be found on the postcard reproduced in Kasper's book. Minus the tram.

G91vpzcbR%mzXYUpyT+uaA_thumb_d6d8

But let's travel with the postcard to Dusseldorf. Two of Konrad Fischer's main clients were the Herberts. And the Herbert Foundation published a tribute to the gallery called The Konrad Fischer Years / 1964-1978. One of the texts is a panel discussion involving Kasper König. The discussion took place in 2018, more than twenty years after Fischer's death. KK tells the audience how he first met Konrad Fischer:

"I was visiting the Dusseldorf Art Academy, and Konrad was one of the students there alongside Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter. While I lived in London, we stayed in touch and we became partners after I had moved to New York in the mid-60s. When we were partners, Konrad and I came up with the following agreement: I would introduce American artists and he in turn would suggest European artists he was in contact with, such as, among others, Richard Long. Konrad's idea was to present artists who had never been seen in Europe before. Economically speaking, it was a very intelligent viewpoint. The artists had to travel to Dusseldorf and remain there for at least three weeks because it would have been too expensive if they were travelling from America. It turned out to be a very significant strategic idea."

Possibly. But it doesn't apply to On Kawara. True, On Kawara was an artist who hadn't shown in Europe before, but after his experience at the Guggenheim International in 1971, Kawara had decided not to attend his own openings. He wasn't in Dusseldorf in connection with the 'One Million Years' show in 1971, or the show of Date Paintings that took place in 1972.

Back to Konrad Fischer when he was still at art school. According to Kasper:

"From the very beginning Konrad was always extremely well informed, invariably being the one student with the best current information. He was concerned with student politics but not from an ideological point of view, it was strictly related to power. At one point in 1967, he decided that he didn't want to be an artist anymore and started organising exhibitions under his own name. That indicated a very cool kind of consciousness. You could compare it to a rock 'n' roll musician who suddenly decides he would rather be a producer.

"In addition, I never heard him talking about art. He consistently avoided the aesthetic debate. Also, he pretended not to read, just as he pretended never to work."

Hang on, has Konrad Fischer turned into Andy Warhol?

"Konrad was an entrepreneurial individual, who claimed he had absolutely nothing to do. He didn't have a liking for the analytical discourse nor for making a stance in order to get a discussion going. He rejected discussions. In his student life at the Academy, he was always keen to find out what was happening without attaching any serious importance to it. He wanted to feel in control."

As far as I'm aware, that's exactly what Warhol did.

"Then again Konrad never made any compromises. When he made a decision, he persisted. He had a very well defined vision for the exhibition programme and his aesthetic demands were uncompromising."

Warhol ditto.

"After the Carl Andre exhibition, I asked Konrad to partner with me on a Bruce Nauman presentation. When I was in California, I saw several works created by Nauman, including some wonderful drawings. At the time, I had no idea who this artist was. He lived in San Francisco when I visited him. I was very enthusiastic, considering it to be something I had not seen before: highly reflexive, self-critical, probably more related to science and music than art. But Konrad had heard that Bruce Nauman was a Neo-dada, post-hippie kind of artist and that didn't exactly work for him. He was dogmatic and stubborn to a great extent."

And yet Bruce Nauman did show at Konrad Fischer, Dusseldorf. 6 Day Week: 6 Sound Problems in 1968 and both Studies for Holograms and Untitled: Corridor Piece with Mirror in 1970. Perhaps it is Kasper Konig that is/was the stubborn one!

I wonder if Bruce Nauman was in San Francisco in 1973 when On Kawara passed through. They had already met at the time of the Guggenheim exhibition in 1971. I MET for Feb 15 includes the names Konrad Fischer, Richard Long and Bruce Nauman.

Back to Kasper
König's narrative: "Innovative people who, in terms of politics, are completely regressive have always existed. They are individuals who don't have an inclination for change out of a certain self-centred point of view, only wishing to be involved in their own work. The same was true for Konrad, he wanted to come up with a fresh approach to exercise a new type of profession."

I think that applies not just to Konrad Fischer, but to many of his principal artists, in particular, On Kawara and Richard Long.

On Kawara: "Good evening. I am a regressive artist, in that all I believe in is the integrity of my own work."

Richard Long: "Good evening. I too am a regressive artist, in that all my time and energy goes into my own work."

Konrad Fischer. "Stop, stop, boys. No talking shop in front of potential clients!"



STOP 13: SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA

November 24, 1973. Arrive.
November 25, 1973. Date Paint.
November 26, 1973. Depart

A short stay in Sacramento. A city not far from San Francisco.



Nwe5hbzuRHm4BJHrxnwVWQ_thumb_d66c
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

The postcard of the same day:


3DesZFZRTca51vK8G9g2FA_thumb_d673
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

On Kawara used a postcard of the hotel that he and Hiroko were staying at. There is no longer a hotel at 1319 30th Street.

I must admit that, for whatever reason, I turn to the I WENT with a lack of enthusiasm. Not another map to explore, I am thinking. Have I been doing this project for too long? I note in passing that it is five solid months since I began on this Date Painting homage. This I GOT UP lark.

But let's park those sudden doubts and explore the I WENT…


a5%LFmBRRvyLLBl+h2n5ew_thumb_d674
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

It looks as if On Kawara went into the Crocker Art Gallery that day. But so what?

And then something fortuitous happens. I realise that the single illustration in
Conceptual Art, a Taschen art book edited by Daniel Marzona, consists of I GOT UP postcards of this exact period. Not cards to Konrad Fischer, but rather to Ursula Meyer, who had published a book called Conceptual Art in 1972. Clearly On Kawara must have been impressed with that book, which I have just ordered.

g9GontW7Sc+gxrUN9Hfqdw_thumb_d709
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

The card reproduced on the right of the top row, shows the correct picture to go with the November 21 message. (The Golden Gate Bridge, doh! ) And the card reproduced on the right of the middle row, suggests that On Kawara did indeed call in at the Crocker Gallery! The picture side is unusual in that it's not a view of somewhere in the city that On Kawara was visiting. Instead, it's a Breughel painting that can be seen at the Crocker. 'Feasting and Dancing in Holland' is its official title. How about 'The Sausage Dance' for short?:

BhCWPDgvRduzBhlMvF7ZLQ_thumb_d70c


I myself am sausage dancing because, thanks to the Taschen volume, I now have repros of six cards between the consecutive ones in On Kawara: HorizontalityVerticality dated November 25 (Sacramento) and December 8 (San Diego).

Let me celebrate further by posting extracts from a 1971 interview with Konrad Fischer that is reproduced in that little book published by the Herbert Foundation called
The Konrad Fischer Years. 1964 - 1978.

"I went to America for the first time in 1968, and called people up - not Warhol or Lichtenstein, that's not interesting, but Judd…"

"I have never felt so spontaneously enthusiastic about anyone as I did about Richard Long…."

"On the other hand, when something gets recommended to me, and I have a feeling I don't understand it - as with Kosuth's texts - then I leave it alone. And when he puffs himself up in 'Studio International', that's the sort of thing I can't take…"

"When I was an artist everything was so far away; Warhol, Lichtenstein and all those were unattainable great men. But when you know them, you can have a beer with them and get rid of your inferiority complex…"

KQiyfPguQASSmxeUvkiOpQ_thumb_d70d
Annotated with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder.

"I haven't got many clients - a doctor, a bank director, a foundry engineer - and a few in Italy, Benelux and England. But 50% of what I sell goes to other galleries…"

"What's important for me is not how to sell things but how to get information across to those who are interested, so that in due course the artists I represent get somewhere, and people say, "Fischer got the right man"…"

"I see myself as an art agent; this is a long-term job, you have to build up gradually, it's no use expecting to get what you want in three years…"

"There is no art that is easily consumable. Warhol or Van Gogh make just as many demands on one as Conceptual Art; it's just that with paintings people think they've taken it all in in one look. I believe that art is understood only by professionals…"


What a nice interview! It confirms some of what Kasper Konig said in that public discussion, yet adds another dimension to Konrad Fischer's personality.




STOP 14: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

I wonder why On Kawara returned to Los Angeles. He didn't do any Date Paintings this time and stayed about a week. That is, he arrived on November 27 and departed on December 6.

Four of the cards to Ursula Meyer tell a story. OK came back to the Holiday Lodge on 1631 West Third Street and stayed there for one night. But he couldn't have been happy about something, because he moved to another hotel a little further west along the same street. That is, Nutel Motel at 1906 West Third Street.

xxdY%Bu+QEmzG78bzYwOZw_thumb_d709
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

There is hotel trading there still. Under the name 'Center Lake'.

ey9uzEApQkOa9tmjmLjWog_thumb_d6f3

The hotels ownership constantly changes. It was called the J.J. Park Motel just a few years ago. A minimal change of signage took it from one ownership to another. 'MOTEL' on a yellow background to 'HOTEL' on a white background, for example.

2RzGqRQxQGuOm3PvQzAprg_thumb_d6f2

But why did On Kawara return to Los Angeles? If I had access to I MET for December 1973, I expect I would be able to work it out. I'm tempted to think it was something to do with John Baldessari who lived 14 miles away in Santa Monica. On Kawara sent postcards to him in 1974/75 so there must have been a connection made before then.

Bp7y1duEQdyoZON5DR9Ruw_thumb_d6d9
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

John Baldessari was born in California and remained loyal to it. But he did travel a lot, and was often in New York. So On and he may have met up then.

Nevertheless, I am going to bear in mind this little map, showing JB's house on the coast and OK's two hotels in Los Angeles…

DUL72yX5QSCEjpD%KwxcEw_thumb_d6f0

You see the connections between JB and OK are irresistible. They were both near the top of the Conceptual Art ladder. But their work was very different. For Baldessari the idea had replaced the actual work. Whereas for Kawara idea and work were irrevocably entwined. For Baldessari, one idea led to another and another and another. Whereas for Kawara, the original idea was the one that he stuck close to, and dug into, as it was not possible to have a better idea!

Both had had invitations to the Nova Scotia School of Art in Halifax, Canada. At Kasper
König's invitation, On Kawara had visited the place in 1973, a year after One Million Years had been shown there. As we know, Baldessari was asked to go there in 1971, but didn't because there was no money in it. However, he sent instructions that the students could scrawl, 'I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art' over the gallery walls in his name. This they did. And a print was produced in the lithography department. Below is what the print looked like:

m7A0M%weS2eWaOf+qHNe0w_thumb_d6dc
Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the Estate of John Baldessari.

Perhaps 'I will not make any more free art' would have been more to the point.

John Baldessari was also one of the artists that Konrad Fischer repeatedly invited to Dusseldorf. In 1971 - the same year that Kawara's
One Million Years was shown in Dusseldorf - Konrad Fischer had printed a booklet of Baldessari's called 'Ingres and the Parables'. And in 1973 John Baldessari was given his second show there.

I wonder if 'I will not make any more boring art' scrawled all over the gallery walls would have worked for Konrad Fischer. Probably not, as that's not commodifiable. On the other hand, there was always the lithograph option. I think a more basic problem would be that 'I will not make any more boring art' went without saying. If you were showing at Konrad Fischer's place, making boring art would have been absolutely out of the question.

In other words, 'boring' depends on context. 'Million Years Past' was boring to Nova Scotia students. 'I will not make any more boring art' would not have floated Konrad Fischer's boat in Dusseldorf.




STOP 15: SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

December 6 or 7, 1973: Arrive
December 8, 1973: Date Paint
December 9, 1973: Sight-see?
December 10, 1973: Date Paint
December 11, or a day or two later: Depart


5%%7TNTEQcaiGFQsM9pZ6g_thumb_d66d
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Below is the last postcard to Konrad Fischer that is included in On Kawara: Horizontality/Verticality.


DBwavFo6RhOAFYroSOjTvw_thumb_d675
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Again there has been a mix up in the pages of On Kawara: Horizontality/Verticality: the picture does not match the caption on the message side. In other words, there is no sign of Balboa Park. Balboa Park does feature on the day's I WENT, however, which may be why the mistake was made.

YAN14D5RSjePFyz+xuHC3g_thumb_d676
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

I don't have any more postcards from San Diego. But I wouldn't be surprised if they were of details of Balboa Park. The Museum of Man, the Natural History Museum, the Reptile House, the Seal Show and the Giraffe Paddock all sound like postcard possibilities. It doesn't matter.

So what next? I am getting that feeling of lethargy again. I don't see how reading this essay, dear reader, can be as engaging as some of the earlier pieces. I feel I should apologise for that. I will try and do better. Indeed, I will try not to make any more boring art.



STOP 16: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

Back to Los Angeles. Possibly as early as the 11th. Possibly until as late as the 24th. For a maximum of two weeks, then.

The only bit of hard evidence I have is the postcard dated December 19 reproduced in a book about Konrad Fischer, It's not a particularly high quality repro, but it does give the essential information about where On Kawara was. He was back in the Nutel Motel at 1906 West Third Street.

OvlNl8l0QhmiXi+Icjc67A_thumb_d631
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

This time I cannot resist it. We are going from 1906 West Third Street, L.A., to 2306 Third Street, Santa Monica. On Kawara and John Baldessari have so much to discuss.

Let me set the scene. Our rather let the scene be set by a paragraph taken from a 1986 piece called 'No More Boring Art' by Hunter Drohojowska.

X8qquzDfRhqWO5Rt+Qv%6A_thumb_d6df

John Baldessari was born in 1932. The same year as On Kawara. In 1973 they were both 40, give or take a single year. I think they would have talked, as people do, of what they have in common. For instance, of Sol LeWitt, whose drawing was hanging like a crucifix over Baldessari's bed. Sol LeWitt, who, I just realised the other day, was sent four postcards during the first half of On Kawara's 1973 road trip. That is from Saint Louis and Topeka…

FYTV9kuuT%eudYyTV3haVQ_thumb_d049
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Do I know why On Kawara wrote these cards to Sol LeWitt from these locations in October, 1973? I do not. I will investigate at some stage, but for now let us focus on John Baldessari. One giant of the Conceptual Art world at a time, would seem to make sense.

A year after this hypothetical meeting with On Kawara, John Baldessari had an actual meeting with Garry Neill Kennedy from Nova Scotia. The set-up is revealed in a page from
The Last Art College.

5m6a1gVwQlOf5tLipEr5Lw_thumb_d735
Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder.

For the meeting between John Baldessari and On Kawara, it would be appropriate if the book that the artists were engaging with was
Ingres and other Parables published by Konrad Fischer on the occasion of Baldessari's first show in Dusseldorf in October, 1971. Baldessari handed Kawara the book and asked him to read aloud one of the parables.

OK: "I would prefer it if you read."

JB: "As you wish. Here goes then."

OK: "Slowly."

JB: "Surely."

OK: "Not that slowly! You can start!"

JB: "
This is a story of a little known painting of Ingres. Its first owner took good care of it, but as things go he eventually had to sell it."

OK: "Oh, dear."

JB: "Are you thinking of one of your own paintings?"

OK: "No, I am thinking of the Ingres. Please continue."

JB: "
Succeeding owners were not so cautious about its welfare and did not take as good care of it as the first owner. That is, the second owner let the painting’s condition slip a bit. Maybe it all began by letting it hang crookedly on the wall, not dusting it, maybe it fell on the floor a few times when somebody slammed the door too hard. Anyway, the third owner received the Ingres with some scratches (not really tears) and the canvas buckled in one corner, paint fading here and there."

OK: "Now I am thinking of one of my Date Paintings. Give me
a second to clear my mind of that."

JB: "Sure."

OK: "Thank-you. Please resume."

JB: "
Owners that followed had it retouched and so on, but the repairs never matched and the decline had begun. The painting looked pretty sad. But what was important was the documentation - the idea of Ingres; not the substance. And the records were always well-kept. A clear lineage, a good geneaology. It was an Ingres certainly, even though the painting by this time was not much. The other day it was auctioned off. Time had not been kind to the Ingres. All that was left was one nail. Maybe the nail was of the original, maybe it was used in repairs, or maybe Ingres himself had used it to hang the painting. It was all of the Ingres that remained. In fact, it was believed to be the only Ingres ever offered in public sale. Moral: if you have the idea in your head, the work is as good as done."

OK: "I see."

JB: "What do you see?"


OK: "I see that the time scale is ridiculous. Ingres painted in the Nineteenth Century. It is inconceivable that a professionally made painting could be reduced to a single nail in that time."

JB: "Anything else?"

OK: "The nail puts me in mind of the 'true cross' on which your Christ was crucified. But I don't think you want me to go there."

JB: "I think you have a point. I did want Christ's cross to be referenced, which may caused me to speed up the decline of the Ingres. Anything else?"

OK: "Of course, there is something else. The main point. I have to disagree with the moral of the story. I paint my pictures over and over and over again for a reason. The process is important. Like meditation, if you will. But more than that, the painting has to be seen in the world, by other people, not just in my head by myself. Besides, our heads are so poor at visualising. Can you see clearly the features of your own mother?"

JB: "I'd like to think so."

OK: "You need to prove it by making that drawing! All images need to be proved by being realised on paper and canvas. All ideas need to be made manifest in the world. I have the idea to send
a postcard to two people every day of my adult life. Fine. Easy to understand. But worthless if it stops there. I have to obtain the cards, I have to stamp the cards, I have to send them off. Every single day. Day after day. In this way, the idea has legs, it has life. The idea lives only through being given form in the real world. I am so glad you did not just have the idea of this book, but that you typed it out and persuaded Konrad to publish it in the form that passes between our hands and through our eyes today."

JB: "Would you like me to read another parable?"

OK: "There is nothing I would like more."

JB: "This one is called 'Art History'."

OK: "Good."

JB:
"A young artist had just finished art school. He asked his instructor what he should do next. “Go to New York,” the instructor replied, “and take slides of your work around to all the galleries and ask them if they will exhibit your work.” Which the artist did. He went to gallery after gallery with his slides. Each director picked up the slides one by one, held each up to the light the better to see it, and squinted his eyes as they looked. “You’re too provincial an artist,” they all said. “we’re looking for Art History.” He tried. He moved to New York. He painted tirelessly, seldom sleeping. He went to museum and gallery openings, studio parties and artists’ bars. He talked to every person having anything to do with art; travelled and thought and read constantly about art. He collapsed. He took his slides around the galleries a second time. “Ah,” the gallery directors said this time “finally you are historical.” Moral: Historical mispronounced sounds like hysterical.”

OK (frowning): "I need to pick apart the ending."

JB: "Go ahead."

OK: "I am left with the impression that the artist thinks he has been accepted by the New York art world, but actually, the gallerist thinks that the artist has become a joke."

JB: "Yes."

OK: "But actually that is not the situation. If the director has mispronounced 'historical', it sounds as if he or she has said 'hysterical'. So the director finally approves of the artist's work, but the artist, hearing 'hysterical', thinks he is being dismissed."

JB: "Success and failure, very difficult to tell apart sometimes."

OK: "But whichever interpretation is correct, there is not a meeting of minds. The artist and the New York gallerist do not understand each other."

JB: "Never the twain shall meet."

OK: "I understand this to be an autobiographical allegory, as you have resisted the temptation to leave the West coast and go to New York."

JB: "Christ, I go there all the time!"

OK: "But you come back here. You live and work in Santa Monica."

JB: "True."

OK: "The funny thing is, I too am reading the story as autobiographical allegory. You see, I am about to drive to New York! The day after tomorrow is when we set off. When we get there I will show the Date Paintings from my road-trip to the director of a gallery."

JB: "And he will say: "What is this day pain thing?"

OK: "And I will hear: 'What is this Date Painting?'

JB: "And he will say: 'What is this Date Painting?

OK "And I will hear: 'what is this day pain thing?'

JB "But in any case, you will simply take your ideas to Dusseldorf!"

OK "I will take my
paintings to Dusseldorf. Konrad can't sell ideas."



STOP 17-24: LOS ANGELES TO NEW YORK

The distance between Los Angeles and the first stop on the return journey, Phoenix, is 372 miles. Nearly seven hours of driving. There would have been an I WENT produced in the morning of December 24th showing On and Hiroko leaving LA. And a second I WENT produced for the evening of the 24th showing them arrive in Phoenix. Then on the morning of the 25th…

But hang on minute. I'm approaching the end of the road-trip and I still don't know for sure if On Kawara was driving, though I think he was. And I don't know if Hiroko was present, though again I think she was. This is important as they are going to be talking to each other in the scenes that follow. Fictional conversations that will seem even more fictional if they weren't even travelling together in reality!

If I had a single I MET for December, 1973, then I would know the score. But none of the books I have about On Kawara contains such a thing. However,
On Kawara, SILENCE reproduces an I MET for a particular day in April, 1974.

wP1inOpTRH2xpZGPD9dv6w_thumb_d786
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

The significance of this is that April 3, 1974, is in the middle of another On Kawara road-trip, this one down the east side of the United States. It began in March 1974, and took in Richmond, Jacksonville, Miami Beach, Columbia (South Carolina) and Philadelphia. So while this doesn't prove that Hiroko was travelling with On in December 1973, let's face it she was. They got married (by my reckoning) in March, 1973. They went twice to Nova Scotia together in spring and summer, 1973. And they took a road-trip across America to round off their fabulous year. There: I've said it.

So let's accept that On and Hiroko travelled together from Los Angeles to Phoenix on December 24 and that On Kawara rose on the morning of the 25th to make this little beauty…


2oEJX5UBSMuwOpeJBKgtfQ_thumb_d678
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

On and Hiroko seem to have gone to 33rd Avenue and Buckeye Road, first. Perhaps to break their fast, or to post the two cards, or to fill up the car with petrol, or to buy each other Christmas presents, or to visit Santa Claus. Whatever. Then east towards El Paso…

b6kVz3EzRqqaBgNrpjf6UA_thumb_d757
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Four hundred and thirty miles to El Paso. A drive time of about six hours. What did they do to help pass the time? Let's imagine.

PiRWRYvoTaChMNzZhFk29Q_thumb_d793
Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder.

OK: "Shall we have another of John's parables? Konrad made such a lovely job of the printing."

HK: "Yes, let's. Which one?"

OK: "Read me the titles again, please."

HK: "Ingres, Art History, The Best Way to Do Art, The Great Artist, The Visitor, Two Artists, The Contract, The Neon Story and The Wait."

OK: "I don't know which to choose! They all sound so interesting! Nothing Christmassy though."

HK: "Never mind, On. There is no hurry. I love to look at the pages. I love to imagine it hanging on the wall of our flat in New York all next year. Like a calendar. A black and white picture, and below it the parable rendered in four languages."

OK: "Not Japanese."

HK: "No. English, German, French and Italian."

OK: "John's is a small world."

HK: "He thinks he is a cool West Coast dude. In while from New York. But he is Eurocentric."

And so the journey passed. With a single parable eventually enjoyed amidst much laughter.

An I WENT map would have been produced on arrival at El Paso. Then on the morning of the 26th, On Kawara got down to his usual business…

ShXrpIYpS460AKn6cG8YKg_thumb_d67a
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Our intrepid travellers seem to have hung around in the vicinity of the hotel to begin with. Then east towards Odessa…

UVrYaoM+TQaHarUXP6GEcw_thumb_d758
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Two hundred and eighty miles to the day's destination. A drive time of four hours. What did they do to help pass the time? Can't you guess?

OK: "Shall we have another of John's parables?"

HK: "Yes, let's. Which one?"

OK: "Read me the titles again."

HK: "Ingres, Art History, The Best Way to Do Art, The Great Artist, The Visitor, Two Artists, The Contract, The Neon Story and The Wait."

OK: "I love those titles. I don't know which to choose! They all sound great."

HK: "How about 'The Best Way To Do Art'."

OK: "Sure."

HK: "A young artist in school used to worship the paintings of Cezanne. He looked at and studied all the books he could find on Cezanne and copied all the reproductions of Cezanne’s work he found in books."

OK: "This is going to be good."

HK: "He visited a museum and for the first time saw a real Cezanne painting. He hated it.

OK: "Ha!"

HK: "It was nothing like the Cezannes he had studied in the books. From that time on, he made all of his paintings the sizes of paintings reproduced in books and he painted them all in black and white."

OK: "Good for him."

HK: "He also printed captions and explanations on the paintings as in books. Often he just used words."

OK: "Like John!"

HK: "And one day he realised that very few people went to art galleries and museums but many people looked at books and magazines as he did and they got them through the mail as he did.

OK: "Very few people go to galleries! If very few people go to galleries, very few people read books."

HK: "Moral…

OK: "Ah, the punchline."

HK: "Moral… It’s difficult to put a painting in a mailbox."

OK: "But not impossible."

At which point the laughter started. Two people travelling from El Paso to Odessa. Their vehicle awash with laughter.

An I WENT map would have been reduced on arrival at this Texan town and maybe there was some time for sight-seeing. Then on the morning of the 27th On Kawara put a painting in a mailbox, or the next best thing…

3Eljy7ibSoCQ1rVg9wEDfg_thumb_d736
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

On and Hiroko may have breakfasted at the hotel. Then it seems they made their way (with a detouring loop to see somewhere? I'm not even going to check it out because they were so in travelling mode) to the interstate highway going east towards Dallas…

GfUC4WxfTaOOZw4F5OViwQ_thumb_d759
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Three hundred and fifty miles this time. Which would have taken just over five hours, plus an hour for lunch. A long, long drive. Enlivened by this exchange:

OK: "Shall we have another of John's parables?"

HK: "Yes, let's. Which one?"

OK: "Read me the titles again."

HK: "Ingres, Art History, The Best Way to Do Art, The Great Artist, The Visitor, Two Artists, The Contract, The Neon Story and The Wait."

OK (laughing): "I don't know which to choose! They all sound great."

HK: "How about 'The Wait'."

OK: "Sure."

HK: "Once there was an artist who everybody thought was good."

OK: "Ha!"

HK: "He had a few doubts about this, but it was true - he was smitten with the idea of art. So he painted. And painted. Soon someone said he should have a show. “Not yet,” he said and went back to work.

OK: "This one is going to cut close to the bone."

HK: "He entered his works in local competitions now and then. The local library showed one of his paintings and the art critic of the town paper mentioned his name. A relative said his paintings looked like a linoleum floor…

OK: "Ah, abstract."

HK: "…and asked if he could draw. He knew that he was slowly becoming an artist. “You should show your works in a one-man show. “No,” he said, “not yet” and went back to work. Fellow art students rose to fame: they sold, they had shows, people talked, they moved to big cities. “Come,” they said. “No, not yet,” he replied. Soon his work had authority, had insight, had maturity."

OK: "Authority! Insight! Maturity!"

HK: "Should he show, he thought. No, he answered, though rewards beckoned. One morning he walked into his studio and it was clear. His work was pivotal, even seminal…"

OK: "Pivotal! Seminal!"

HK: "…The time had come for a show. He showed and nothing happened."

OK: "He showed and nothing happened?"

HK: "Moral: Artists come and go."

OK: "Oh my God, That is so scary!"

At which point the laughter started. As the car sped through endless Texas. As the happy couple zeroed-in on Dallas.

I reckon they would have got to Dallas about 4pm assuming they'd set off at ten in the morning. An I WENT map would have been produced on arrival and maybe there was some time for sight-seeing. Then on the morning of the 28th…



xby3iE9LRrmctcj0wMe2hA_thumb_d283
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

On and Hiroko may have breakfasted at the hotel. Then it seems they made their way to the interstate highway east out of Texas and on towards Missouri…

O0zQ91CRRr+eWDOl1U0nSA_thumb_d75a
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Four hundred miles. A six-hour drive assuming an average driving speed of 70 mph. Which would have taken just over five hours, plus an hour for lunch. And after lunch, to amuse themselves?

OK: "Shall we have another of John's parables?"

HK: "Yes, let's. Which one?"

OK: "Read me the titles again."

HK: "Ingres, Art History, The Best Way to Do Art, The Great Artist, The Visitor, Two Artists, The Contract, The Neon Story and The Wait."

OK: "I don't know which to choose! They all sound great."

HK: "How about 'The Neon Story."

OK: "Sure."

HK: "Once there was an unknown sculptor who was an early worker in neon…"

OK: "Dan Flavin!"

HK: "The director of a small college gallery who heard hm speak of his efforts with this material asked to see his work. Upon seeing the neon sculpture, the director arranged to show the piece in the gallery. Press announcements were mailed out. On the basis of the announcements, the following occurred. 1. One of America’s largest newspapers asked for colour photographs to run in the Sunday edition. 2.One of America’s largest museums wanted to give a new-talent award to the sculptor…"

OK: "That wouldn't happen."

HK: "3. The director of a major gallery in one of America’s largest cities offered him a one-man show…"

OK: "That certainly would never happen."

HK: "…No one had seen any of the artist’s work but all had read the press announcement."

OK: "John, his is nonsense!"

HK: "Moral…"

OK "Don't listen to John Baldessari!"

HK: "Moral…"

OK: "Seriously. Don't ever listen to a word he says!"

HK: "Moral.
Never underestimate the value of an idea."

And laughter follows banter, like night follows day.

I don't think they would have got to Jackson before 5pm. Travel weary and hungry. Oh the joys of road-tripping! Then on the morning of the 29th…


6pU5iKoJRoalq4uCTCEWqg_thumb_d738
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

On and Hiroko may have breakfasted at the hotel. Then it seems they made their way to the interstate highway south towards Atlanta, Georgia…

DKfBL79+QI+NaBdLZhPWAg_thumb_d75c
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Nearly four hundred miles. A seven-hour drive is what's suggested by Google. And to entertain themselves?

OK: "Shall we have another of John's parables?"

HK: "Yes, let's. Which one?"

OK: "Read me the titles again."

HK: "Ingres, Art History, The Best Way to Do Art, The Great Artist, The Visitor, Two Artists, The Contract, The Neon Story and The Wait."

OK: "Oh, no! I think we've been through them all. About ten times each."

HK: "Oh, come on, On! That's not the spirit!"

OK: "OK, OK. let's have 'Two Artists' one more time."

I don't think they would have got to Atlanta before 6pm. Seriously tired from a week of solid driving and laughing. Then on the morning of the 30th…



99VmYtf+S42jG9w7I6ZXLw_thumb_d73a
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

On and Hiroko decided to take a break in Atlanta. Let's return to the map I made when the road-trip started. The map is wrong in that, due to an extra return to Los Angeles that I didn't know about when I began this exercise, the homeward journey started from there, not San Diego (close to Tijuana on the map). They'd just driven an average of between five and six hours a day for the last six days.

ppkAGsqkSEaqMRfboTl%Yw_thumb_d57c

Three more days driving before arriving back home. But first the decision was made to take a break in Atlanta. The I WENT for Dec 30 is more enterprising than the maps of earlier in the week. It shows a total of seven stops, most of them along Peachtree Street:

LnMespriRVStYBMYH1hFSA_thumb_d75e
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Grant park contains a zoo, and On and Hiroko seem to have walked up to it, if not through it.

NuvcUzwpS7K71zE6l5pMLw_thumb_d772

An enjoyable stroll or two. However, On Kawara kept enough time aside to make a Date Painting. Imagine painting what follows (below) after a week of concentrating exclusively on the road and on John Baldessari's parables. Oh, I bet that felt good!

k8+7mV2BT625y+mBizOSpg_thumb_d66e
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

December 31 was also spent in Atlanta. A Date Painting was not made though.

Then on January 1, the Kawara's drove to Charlotte in North Carolina. That's nearly 250 miles, a journey of three hours forty-five minutes, without stopping. An I WENT would have been made for January 1. Then on the morning of January 2…


s3vQb8bLSRuStM+iFfCLEg_thumb_d73c
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Back to the old routine of hitting the road with a view to getting to Richmond, Virginia…

sFIeqx0yROy1H%QdOpF1aA_thumb_d773
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Three hundred miles. Which would have taken four and a half hours. Have I anything to say about the journey? It seems not. An I WENT map would have been produced on arrival at Richmond. Then on the morning of the 3rd…



SOL1F44zRi+2Htnf8Jj85w_thumb_d73f
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

One more stop to go to the Big Apple. A stretch of 350 miles. Which would have taken six hours, without stops.

Ilgq1k68SBWLQAS7qqFL4A_thumb_d774
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

What were they talking about as they neared their destination? Whether they would be pleased to get home (yes) and see their friends (yes)? Whether Takeshi Kawashima would be throwing a mah jong party in the foreseeable future? Whether there would be room in the studio for all the Date Paintings that were piled up in the boot of the car?

Almost home, but not quite. It seems that I have broken down just short of New York. So many miles on the clock have taken it out of me. I've kind of forgotten who I am, a well-known syndrome of road-tripping.

I've come to realise that I can't push this exercise all the way through from 1966 to 1979, which had been my intention. I will break off at the start of 1974 in order to investigate my own interaction with On Kawara's oeuvre from 1992. Later I will return, refreshed, to the start of 1974, an older and - hopefully - wiser traveller.


Part two begins here.