1974






INTRO


Another year of being on the move for On Kawara, both within New York and further afield. On and Hiroko didn't have a permanent Manhattan address but instead hopped from flat to flat. This left them free to make a couple more road-trips in the year, and to fly to Bern, Switzerland, where Kasper Konig had managed to get On Kawara's first major show. It would be called 'One Year's Production', meaning 1973, and that would be the main event of On Kawara's 1974. Though you have to be patient, dear reader, as it doesn't take place until September. But never mind, because lots happens before then.

ONE

JANUARY 4 - MARCH 12

On and Hiroko didn't make it back to New York until January 4. The next couple of months were spent in New York. Social life with the New York Japanese artist community was resumed.

They would be going on another road trip from mid-March. Where did they sleep and work until then? There were three addresses. First, just for a couple of days, they stayed with the Naraharas at 24 East 22nd Street. Ikko was the artist whose photographs (and conversation) had inspired On and Hiroko's road-trip, so there would have been a lot to discuss.

After that, On and Hiroko moved into the Konigs place at 205 East 78th Street. So the whole Konig family would crop up, day after day on the I MET list. Kasper Konig was doing much work behind the scenes trying to get a major public show for On. As I've already signalled, this is the year he would succeed in this tricky networking endeavour, even for an artist so blazingly original as On Kawara.

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Both the above cards were sent to Michael Asher who at the time was a conceptual artist who'd begun teaching at the California Institute of the Arts in 1973. On and Hiroko met him in L.A. during the winter 1973 road trip. Asher's Writings 1973-1983 were published by the Nova Scotia School of Art, but not until Kasper König had left that job. Rather than designing new art objects, Asher typically altered the existing environment, by repositioning walls, facades, etc. How about moving the bridges in the postcards that was sent to him a few hundred yards? No, Michael Asher's interventions were more subtle than that, and On Kawara would have appreciated this. I wonder if Asher noticed the variants on the sender's and knew what they meant.

By January 16, On and Hiroko were staying at 140 East 31 Street. I don't know whose flat this was. Possibly they rented it in their own name. Possibly they were occupying it while a friend was working away from New York. In any case, having the space to themselves meant that On could resume his Date Painting. Three January Date Paintings and six February ones were completed.

Let's see what 'I READ' tells us. JAN. 17, 1974. 'Gales sink two ships in English Channel and leave 34 dead.' This is one of about six stories that On has clipped and stuck to three sheets. The first sheet is devoted to a story about Israel and the Suez Canal, but it's folded in such a way that the headline can't be read. In respect of JAN. 24, 1974 there are two pages of cuttings this time. Stories about Russia, the Middle East and Vietnam are on one page, the drying up of gasoline stations in the US dominates the other. As for JAN.25: 1974, 'I READ' consists of three sheets again. On is clearly back into the consumption of his daily newspaper, the awesome New York Times.

In January, I MET tells us that On met Nobu Fukui eight times, Aoki, six times and Soroku Toyoshima six times. The old friendships were still going strong then. Plus the Konigs and the Naraharas. In February, On met Nobu nine times, Aoki eight and Soroku seven times. And he managed to paint six Dates, making cuttings from NYT as usual, the stories concentrating on politics, conflict and negotiation.

In March, the Date Painting in New York dried up as On and Hiroko made preparations for their trip down the east coast of America. In the four days before setting off, the people that On (and Hiroko) were seeing, more or less exclusively, were those enterprising fellow travellers, the Naraharas.



TWO

MARCH 13 - APRIL 7

STOP ONE: PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA

March 12, 1973. Arrive.
March 13, 1973. Date Paint.
March 15, 1973. Depart.

It's less than hundred miles in a south-western direction from New York to Philadelphia, so On and Hiroko would only have been on the road for an hour and a half or so. There had been no Date Paintings since the end of February, but there would be a single one painted here. This is it:

e8cs75g002bsf6jq2xohuakha_thumb_d86d Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

As well as buying a copy of the Philadelphia Inquirer on March 13 (the clippings from the next day's paper focus on the oil embargo that is causing gas stations to be closing), On Kawara sent a postcard to Roger Marazguil in Paris (as well as one to Claire Copley in L.A.). Mazarguil's the collector who owned a restaurant and was a personal friend of both On and Hiroko.

Let's concentrate on where On and Hiroko went on March 13, 1974. They seem to have covered quite a lot of ground, but the 'I WENT' map certainly suggests a highlight of their day in Philadelphia was the visit to the art museum, top left.

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The way that On Kawara has marked the map suggests they may not have looked around, but gone straight to a single exhibit. In which case it was probably the statue of Diana. In any case, the visit did not influence the cards that were sent out, which were of Philadelphia street scenes.

I can't help feeling that being in Philadelphia Art Museum would have had On and Hiroko chatting about the prospect of On's solo exhibition in Bern, that Kasper Konig was trying to arrange.

On: "Imagine, a whole art museum full of a single year of my output!"

Hiroko: "Stay in the moment, On. I'm surprised to have to say that to you!"

STOP TWO: RICHMOND,

March 15, 1974. Arrive.
March 16, 1974. Date Paint.
March 17, 1974. Date Paint.
March 18, 1974. Depart.

It's 250 miles from Philly to Richmond, a journey that takes about four hours without stops.


1h0025fmfegssux54dskchz7q_thumb_d86e Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.



Three days worth of postcards, all of city buildings. Two 'I READ' entries, in which nothing stands out. Nobody to meet. So let's move on.

STOP THREE: COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA

March 18, 1974. Arrive.
March 19, 1974. Depart.

It takes six hours to drive the 320 miles between Richmond, Virginia, and Columbia, South Carolina.

cirb8p6cqco002btju8vbvdvq_thumb_d87f Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation. There is no sign of a hotel at 505 Knox Avenue Drive in 2021. So I'm out of the city almost as quickly as On and Hiroko. psy0025hgm0025sqgs75je2c6lxw_thumb_d874 Towards Jacksonville. How far is that? A four-and-a-half hour drive should just about be enough to cover the 290 miles.

STOP FOUR: JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA March 19, 1974. Arrive. March 20, 1974. Date Paint. March 21, 1974. Depart.

0wd1ujb3s6o3cyqmfwfgag_thumb_d86f Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

The paper tells us that gas stations had been closed on Sundays. That might explain why two Date Paintings were made at Richmond, stop two. The second was made on Sunday March 17 and it wouldn't have been possible to drive all the way to Columbia in South Carolina on one tank of petrol. Although the 1974 legislation was needed due to a shortage of Saudi oil imports, the same kind of thing might be needed soon to protect the world from global warming. Indeed, if On and Hiroko were doing their trip in 2021, they would be motoring in an electric car. Certainly, On's politics, as revealed through 'I READ', and the extracts boxed with the Date Paintings, would strongly suggest as much.

Anyway, the driving to Jacksonville day, March 19th, was a Tuesday, and the Date was a Wednesday. On which morning On Kawara rose at 10.47am.

rhwccvkqsbgdhvfgkuc30w_thumb_d87a Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

There is still a hotel at 2300 Phillips Highway per Google Maps. The blue and yellow sign does not inspire me to say: "Pull over."

On and Hiroko did a bit of exploring on the 20th.

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But I'm not going to investigate. You see I'm in bit of a hurry myself. A hurry to be investigating those documents that concern the Bern exhibition. There is one written by the director of the Kunsthalle Bern to Kasper König, in Halifax, on March 20, 1974. It states that the exhibition will run from 31 August 1974 to 3 November, 1974. The director thanks Kasper for suggesting that he will provide all the help that Bern will need re the exhibition. In particular the director needs biographical notes on On Kawara and a history of his previous activities. He wants to know the context of the work, the circumstances that brought it about.

I think this letter would have come as great news to Kasper König. I believe he would have wasted no time in communicating the gist of it to On Kawara. But On and Hiroko were on the road and incommunicado until back in New York. No mobile phones in these days. So let's get back on the road.

STOP FIVE: MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA



March 21,1974. Arrive.
March 22, 1974. Explore?
March 23, 1974. Date Paint.
March 24, 1974. Date Paint.
March 25, 1974. Explore?
March 26, 1974. Date Paint.
March 27, 1974. Explore?
March 28, 1974. Depart

Although this was a road-trip, its culmination was Miami Beach and that's where our tourists spent longest. I say 'tourist' because Hiroko said in her letter to Kasper in July 1969, how much On liked the word 'tourist' and that he would have liked his profession to be stated as such on all of his official documents.

So there you have it. On Kawara: alone in a room, Date Painting, on the one hand. Out of the room and exploring the city, full of curiosity, on the other. A tourist of the interior?


t8n5gosut0qetyo8sekh5w_thumb_d870 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation



When one sees the 'I WENT' map for March 24 (coming soon), one understands why On chose this extract from the Miami Herald. It's a city built on water.

It's a pity that several of the postcards to Claire Copley from Miami Beach available on the Tama Art University site are reconstructions. It's pity that On didn't choose to show those he sent to Roger Mazarguil, which I'm accessing from another source. This one (immediately below) features Woolworths, which links back, in my mind at least, to the day that an 'I WENT' map strongly suggests that On visited a Woolworths store in Mexico City. Perhaps there was an item of stationery that he regularly bought from the store. Perhaps Woolworth's was a reliable source of postcards.


002bxmm0025kflt7iesot0kwg4mq_thumb_d87c Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation

Here is the 'I WENT' map I mentioned. Which shows that the lapping sea is to be found on both sides of Miami Beach.



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I might as well find the hotel, top right by the word 'Surfside'. Or at least the site of it. It looks like the building is divided into flats now. Yes, luxury condo flats for the rich. There is no building between the high-rise and the beach

Back in 1974, On and Hiroko standing on a balcony looking out to sea. The previous autumn they had been in California, on the beach at Santa Monica, enjoying the sunset, looking towards Japan. The previous spring they had been on the beach at Dakar, enjoying the sunset, looking towards America. What tourists they indeed were!

It was on March 27 that Kasper König replied to the director of the Kunsthalle in Bern, thanking Johannes Gachnang for the opportunity and promising to give him all he asked for shortly after he had liaised with On Kawara.

Meanwhile, on a younger planet, where no-one was even remotely concerned about global warming, ON and Hiroko were getting back into their gas-guzzler.



STOP SIX: ORLANDO, FLORIDA


March 29, 1974. Arrive.
March 30, 1974. Depart.

A three and half hour journey (237 miles) back north from Miami Beach to Orlando, still in Florida. It's a long state. On Kawara didn't make a Date Painting.


ea04kav002bs0025qr002bwu1002bqzcxq_thumb_d87d Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation

I think he and Hiroko got back on the road on the 30th. But the 'I WENT' map doesn't quite confirm that. The red biro goes to the right edge of the map but no destination is marked.

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However, On and Hiroko moved on to Columbia on the 30th. Actually, there was certain amount of revisiting of cities that they'd already stopped at going on. Effectively, On and Hiroko were retracing their route south. But the did manage the odd significant stop on the return journey.



STOP EIGHT: WASHINGTON D.C.


April 1, 1974. Arrive
April 2, 1974. Rest.
April 3, 1974. Date Paint.
April 4, 1974. Date Paint.
April 5, 1974. Depart

Nearly 500 miles I the northern journey between Columbia and Washington. Which would have taken more than seven hours in the car, without stops. So I've marked in the day after travelling as a rest day. Though it may have been a day of gentle exploration as well.


ipstvjqrqoy7yvzp40025ba0025w_thumb_d872 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation

One of the two daily postcards was still going to Roger Mazarguil in Paris. See the huge smile on his face as he slides a plate of oysters in front of a valued customer and tells him or her about his artist friends' stately progress up and down the east coast of America.

8m5j002bq1zr7wzra7hl7m002bra_thumb_d87e Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation

The Kawaras were staying in a hotel not that far from the White House. The hotel was and is at the junction of 15th Street and L Street. The 'I WENT' for April 3 is impressive. Both the layout of the city, and the Kawaras route through it.

flpyukalty6oboqndc4pwg_thumb_d878 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation

It looks as if they went for a walk between Potomac Park and the river. See the left edge of the above map. And it looks as if they went off the track in order to investigate what is marked as a Japanese pagoda on today's map as provided by Google. I couldn't distinguish a pagoda, but there are plenty of blossoming peach trees. From here there is view across the tidal basin to what?

Hiroko: "Would that be the White House?"

On: "That is the Thomas Jefferson Memorial."

Hiroko: "Who was Thomas Jefferson?"

On: "The Third American President. He served as such around 1800."

Hiroko: "Know anything about him?"

On: "He was an early archaeologist. He collected books. He fathered several children through his black slave who was 30 years younger than him."

Hiroko let this sink in before asking: "And what is that column?"

On: "A monument to George Washington."

Hiroko: "The first President."

On: "He owned hundreds of slaves. But he did change his mind about slavery during his lifetime, and his wife granted freedom to them all after he died and in accordance with his wishes."

Hiroko: "Which is the one that had the beard?"

On: "Abraham Lincoln. He abolished slavery."

Hiroko: "Where is his monument?"

On: "Not sure."

There are only a few 'I MET' lists reproduced in On Kawara: SILENCE, the last book to be put together in the artist's lifetime On Kawara chose the 24 examples. I have little doubt that in choosing April 3, 1974, On was remembering the day that he and Hiroko explored the hallowed grounds of the capital of the United States together.



THREE

Back in New York on April 8, there was no immediate meeting with Kasper Konig who may have been away himself. On and Hiroko stayed with the Naraharas at 24 East 22nd Street for three days, possibly talking about the road trip. There is no way that the trip down the east coast had been as varied or as exciting as the trip to California in 1973.

Ikko Narahara: "I told you it wouldn't be. It's tough to keep life fresh."

From the Naraharas' place, On and Hiroko went upstate to Roscoe for a week, presumably trout fishing. I think they were waiting for the Konigs to get back to New York, because that's who they were staying with, at 205 East 78th Street, from April 17. A chance at last for Kasper to talk with On about what their options might be for Bern. For a week or so, On was seeing all the Konigs but talking at length, one presumes, with Kasper. Then it seems Kasper and Ilka had to be elsewhere and On and Hiroko looked after the Konig children, Lili and Coco. What close relationship between artist and art operator.

In April, On Kawara only painted two Dates, both after the 20th of the month. By then his living quarters had settled. The Naraharas were going back to live in Tokyo so the day they moved out, On and Hiroko moved in.

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I wonder if Keiji Usami noticed the subtle change in the postcards in respect of the sender's address. I can't ask him as the Japanese painter, born in 1940, died in 2012.

In May too, On only made two Dates. And in June two more. Why such record low productivity? Perhaps because On was working with Kasper on the exact form of his forthcoming show. The idea evolved to show a whole year's production, and 1973 was chosen in preference to 1972 after long discussion between the pair. (Kasper König tells us this in his 8-page letter to Johann Gachnang of May 28, 1974.)

It's likely that a certain amount of work was needed to tidy up the 'I MET' files for 1973. But basically these should have been good to go. Likewise, the 'I WENT' maps. As with the 'I MET' lists, these were put back-to-back in transparent plastic sleeves, so that any particular page could be displayed face up in a cabinet. The same went for the 'I READ' files. As I say, the plan was to open the files and lay out certain pages so that they could be scrutinised.

It was felt that the Journals from 1966 to 1973 should all be part of the show. So that the audience could see how the Date Paintings project had begun, and evolved over time. König explained their importance in his letter to Gachnang of May 28:

'The inclusion of the journals. Those accompanying the TODAY series, which began in 1965 [he means 1966: a rare slip], give us the opportunity to use an original On Kawara contribution as a documentary background for the core of the exhibition. OK has agreed to present the original journals 1965 - 1972 at this exhibition in Bern. Against this background, the exhibition visitor is given a very personal insight into the complexity and the apparent contradictions of the entire TODAY series, without being bothered by the currently popular educational and didactic exhibition methodology.'

I should say that the English translation is by Google, with some common sense adjustments by me.

'The Journals were made by OK as a catalog of the respective year and exist only as unique copies. As with all of his work, he did not consider the planning problem of a public presentation. The journals are spiral bound. The unpaginated pages (approx. 54) are back to back in perforated plastic sleeves (21.6 cm x 28 cm). The content of the example of the journal is from 1966: (The structure is the same for all journals.)

'I have already sent you copies of the subtitles from Halifax. For the exhibition, the pages of the journal, which have previously been glued on both sides, will be put into individual pockets so that they can be shown completely flat.'

In other words, sorting those journals out was keeping On (and Hiroko) busy from April to June or July. That and talking through the exact composition and presentation of the forthcoming show. Though everyday life carried on as well. In the three months, May to July, meetings with Nobu (4 + 8 + 6 = 18), Aoki (3 + 4 + 2 = 9) and Soroku (4 + 3 + 4 = 11) were regular.

Here is another extract from the May 28 letter:

Technical remarks on the presentation

Entrance hall: Journals 1966, 1967 and 1968, 1969 are in 3 separate display cases, each 7 m long; of which the journals 1967 and 1968 are in the Mitterlen double showcase back to back. (See sketch.)


y0025oza2lkrh002bjtx3mbl002bg002ba_thumb_d898 Reproduced with the forbearance of Kasper König, I hope.

Each showroom has two display areas, each 30cm wide. The display areas are set at about 45 degrees and will occupy the first half of the journal including the photo series - the lower half (second half of the journal) will show the subtitles. The ratio of the size of the first to the second part of the journals fluctuates considerably. But the leaves can be placed from the middle of the display case.

Side light hall. north: Journals 1970, 1971, 1972, in showcases like in the entrance hall. 1970 and 1971 lie back to back in double showcases. The showcase for the Journal 1972 will be 1.50m longer.

Lantern light room: the pictures are hung on all four walls. The entire hanging area (including the calculated hanging distance from picture to picture - one third of the respective picture width) is 33 meters 70 cm. Including additional space for corners and passageways, we will get by with 40m running pavement.

The journal from 1973 is shown in a flat four-page showcase volume, the journal only in a row, in a closed square.


I think that last sentence is just about comprehensible when the sketch is taken into account. The green question marks are questions about the space that Kasper asks later in the letter. Clearly, the exhibition was designed in detail by Kasper König in consultation with On Kawara. The main contribution of the director at Bern may have been to follow the instructions he was given. Although that may be unfair of me.

The May 28 letter did not deal in detail with the 'I GOT UP' postcards. It just mentioned in passing that the choice and number had still to be decided. So in June that's what On and Kasper sorted out. They came up with the bold plan of showing a full set of 1973 postcards. That is to say, one for each of the 365 days of the year.

KK sent an even longer letter to Bern concerning this, with pages which look like the one reproduced below. The red annotations indicate the postcards that would actually be on display.

z00258bzir8slsqzaeesjzbqw_thumb_d890 Reproduced with the forbearance of Kasper König, I hope.

KK was bearing in mind where in the world the postcards were being sent to. Which is, I suspect, why the New York cards to Lucy Lippard were preferred to those to the gallerist, B. Bischofberger in Zurich (too close to Bern). Though it may have been easier to borrow the postcards from Lippard than Bischofberger.

KK also bore in mind the two instances where they did not have a full set of postcards available. One was those cards that that had been sent to M. Kemeny, who worked at the Galleria Lambert in Paris. Some of the postcards having gone missing because On Kawara had omitted the gallery in the address. Also those to Paul Kennedy in Australia, only 9 out of 45 having been made available to Kasper in New York.

The eight pages of Kaper König's letter can be summarised as follows, where those printed in red ink are the ones selected for display. Being 239 from 'postcard one' and 126 from 'postcard two', giving whole year's worth at one per day.

Postcard one …………………………………Postcard two

9 R Mazarguil (Paris) ……..Nicholas Logsdail (London) 9

14 L. Jugle (Los Angeles) ………….G.C. Politi (Milan) 14

8 H Darboven (Hamburg) ……..Van Eelen (Amsterdam) 8

16 B. Bischofberger (Zurich) Lucy Lippard (New York) 16

33 Kasper König (Halifax) ...Nicholas Logsdail (London) 6
…………………………………………….G.C. Politi (Milan) 4
……………………………………….L. Lippard (New York) 8
…………………………………….K. Fischer (Dusseldorf) 10
………………………………………L. Fugle (Los Angeles) 5

26 C. Kawai (Los Angeles) ......................L. Fugle (LA) 23
…………………………………………………..R.Mazarguil 3

45 J. Castenfors (Stockholm) P. Kennedy (Australien) 45

20 S. Brouwn (Amsterdam) ………H. Daled (Brussels) 20

21 D.+ H. Vogel (New York) ………..G.C. Politi (Milan) 21

23 M. Kemeny (Paris) ……………U. Meyer (New York) 23

25 J. Herbig (Munchen) …………….S. Tanaka (Japan) 63

41 M. Kemeny (Paris) …………………K. Cook (Halifax) 3

77 K. Fischer (Dusseldorf) …………..K. Cook (Halifax) 6
………………………………………………Sol LeWitt (NY) 8
…………………………………………Lucy Lippard (NY) 13
……………………………………….R. Mazarguil (Paris) 15
…………………………………………Ursula Meyer (NY) 18
………………………………………………….D+H Vogel 17

7 B. Bischofberger (Zurich) ………..Claire Copley (LA) 7

239………………………..365……………………………126

I see that 7 cards to Bischofberger in December were included in the show. So the choosing of Lippard ones over Bischofberger cards earlier in the year may just have been to ensure she was included.

What's important about the above table is that it provides details of both postcards sent out over whole year. In the absence of On's postcard log-book, 1973 is the only year for which we have a complete data set. The 2008 book published by Michelle Didier shows one postcard per day for the entire period, May 1968 to September 1979. And sometimes details of the second postcard are provided from an alternative source, either a good catalogue or an auction house record. The existence of the Berlin book, means we have a lot of information for 1976 too, and I will investigate that further when the time is right.

A few things can be surmised right now about On Kawara's process.

1) He tended to begin/end the two postcard sequences at the same time, but not always.

2) Sometimes 'postcard one' would go to a recipient for an extended period (Kasper König or Konrad Fischer), during which time there would be several recipients for 'postcard two', though the numbers would equal each other in the end.

3) The 77 sent to Konrad Fischer during the road-trip to California was the largest set in 1973. In previous years there had been longer sequences as follows:
1968: Kasper König got them for the whole year, beginning in May, and by March 1969 he'd received 326.
1969: Konrad Fischer got 126 from April 1 to July.
1970: Dan Graham got 120 from Feb 21 to July 6.
1971: Dr. Jost Herbig got 121 from July 14 and November 21.
1972: Pontus Hulten got 117 from May 14 to September 7.

Clearly, the number of postcards sent - to some extent - indicated the importance of the recipient to On Kawara, either as a friend or an art contact. On Kawara did not send long sequences of card to any of his Japanese friends in New York, unless these have been kept as private collections.

Well that's not quite true. On sent a month's worth of cards to Aoki in 1970. And - bringing us back to 1974 - he sent a month's worth of cards to Ikko Narahara in Tokyo. This time the sender's address would have brought a smile to Ikko's face. Because that's the address that he had lived when he and Keiko had been in New York. A nice memento!

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The above cards are the first and last of the sequence which began with a view of the United Nations building and ended with JFK International Airport. Which is how the 117 card sequence sent to Pontus Hulten in 1972 began and ended. Though this time the number of cards was 28, about the same as Aoki got.

From Ikko Narahara's old, New York address to his new Tokyo address. I imagine these postcards are still in the family collection. Ikko died in 2020 but Keiko may still be alive. I haven't seen any of the 28 cards that On sent to Ikko reproduced anywhere. That is, until Tama Art University got permission to publish them at medium-resolution, which is why I'm reproducing them two at a time, at a smaller size than I would otherwise.

In the book Broadway, which consists entirely of composite photographs of the junctions of roads along Broadway as it moves from south to north, Ikko Narahara describes the place he stayed in the following way:

'For four years from May 1970, I lived at 24 East 22nd Street in New York. This street, which was lined with trees, which was rare in New York, looks a little chic during the day. "It's like a microcosm of New York," said a friend.' (I wonder if that friend was On Kawara.) 'The building has a 1st floor discotheque, 2nd floor video production, 3rd floor typewriter repair company, 4th floor industrial photographer's studio 5th floor counselling room for alcoholics, 6th floor printing factory, 8th floor psychiatrists workshop and my studio was on the 7th floor. From the window I could see the decorative walls of the nearby Flatiron Building. Sunset-lit Broadway crosses Fifth Avenue and appears to be on fire, with its famous building across, on such times as a summer evening. At such times, when I left the room, my feet would always turn toward Broadway.'

I wonder if On's feet did the same now he was in residence. With a psychiatrist's couch on the floor above, and a printing factory on the floor below.

Back to the forthcoming show in Bern. The same kind of retrieval process that went on for the postcards had to go on for the 'I AM STILL ALIVE' telegrams. Which may have been easier as the recipients were usually professionals working for galleries, and there were not so many of these as it was not a daily project. In 1973, On had sent out 42. The significant ones (in my eyes) being to Pontus Hulten and his team at the Moderna Museet, eight, to René Denizot, six, and to Jost Herbig, six, while the road-trip to California was in full swing.

All this must have been achieved by July, because it was on or about July 15th that KK had promised to travel to Bern to be on hand for the actual installation. On Kawara took the opportunity of getting back to Date Painting in the second half of July, making one DP for each of July 20, July 23, July 24, July 25 and July 29. The 'I READ" pages suggest that the war in Cyprus between Greece and Turkey seems to have held On's attention throughout these days.

No doubt there was still much to do re the forthcoming show. This is suggested by Hiroko Hiraoka's telegram to Kasper König (care of Johann Gachnang) of August 8. It reads: 'i mistyped on's biography correct number is 15,196 hiroko.'

This telegram is slightly puzzling. For in the Bern catalogue it states:

Biography of On Kawara
(August 16, 1974)

15,211 tage

That, in French and German, is all that is printed on one prominent opening page. Now I have checked the arithmetic. On Kawara was born on 24 December 1932. And by August 16, 1974, he had indeed lived 15,211 days, once you add in the days relating to 29 February every Leap Year. But I don't believe that Hiroko would have made a mistake when she was correcting a previous error, so she must have been giving On's age to August 1, 1974. (The difference between 15,211 and 15,196 being 15).

Then the decision must have been made to give the number of days lived until August 16. Why that date, given that the exhibition didn't open until August 30? Well, I don't know. I think it became customary for On Kawara to date his biography to a show's opening date. But obviously not on this occasion. One thing to be pointed out is that On Kawara didn't make a Date Painting on August 1, but he did on August 16.

The catalogue was a balancing act. KK wanted it to be out for the opening of the show. He also wanted photos of the 85 Date Paintings made in 1973 to be in the catalogue. This is what he came up with. Or at least this is the first 22 paintings from 1973, 11 in the top photo and 11 in the one underneath:

upe9q002bpzsssknk2chzonzg_thumb_d90a Reproduced with the forbearance of Kasper König, I hope.


Opposite the page with the first 22 Date Paintings of 1973, are two photos containing the next 22 paintings, taking us from early April to early July.


ogypyjadslmp00258nq5s2xrg_thumb_d90b Reproduced with the forbearance of Kasper König, I hope.

Turning the page in the 1974 catalogue, one is presented with another double-page of Date Paintings. Taking us, on the left-hand page, first from July 4 to August 22, and, in the photo below, from Sept 12 to Oct. 24…

m002bq8ktkftg6bo7ia002biglaa_thumb_d90d Reproduced with the forbearance of Kasper König, I hope.

…And on the right-hand page we go from October 25 to November 20. And, in the photo underneath, from November 21 to Dec 30…

svtosihzrggwa8hkfs2h0025q_thumb_d90c Reproduced with the forbearance of Kasper König, I hope.

But notice, all the paintings are on the same stretch of wall. The markings on the item of furniture make that clear. Kasper, I presume, has hung the Date Paintings a batch at time, and photographed them in one corner of the Kuntshalle Bern. Perhaps because another show was up at the time. But he got what he wanted. Photos of all 85 DPs in situ. Well done, Kasper König, true friend and supporter of his great artist.


A few more things about the catalogue. It consists of about 150 unnumbered pages wrapped in a pale blue cover. The exhibition may have been a whole year's production, but budget constraints meant that the catalogue could not be anything like as comprehensive. The catalogue contains an essay by Rene Denizot that covers nine pages, written in French and translated into German and English.

In the May 28 letter, KK says this:

'As already mentioned, I have been in contact with Rene Denizot for a year, whom I was able to gain for a catalog contribution in relation to the planned Kawara exhibition in Stockholm.

'Denizot is a philosopher, theorist, (Heidegger school). And has been very interested in the work of On Kawara for years. In Halifax there were extensive talks between Kawara who showed us the work and which took us on to New York. Drafts for the text exist - and Denizot’s intention is to write a text accompanying the exhibition that has translations on the topic and should be in French and English. So far we have spoken of a “parallel text” that exists in the context of the exhibition and indirectly deals with Kawara’s work.

'It is important to make the decision to commission the Denizot Text before summer. It will only be possible to receive the text from him when the editorial deadline is set. He also asked me for an advance payment for translation costs. With your consent, I would like to authorize him to finish the text. His address in Paris is: 117 Rue Championnet, Paris 57018 / France. Explanatory comments from the organizers - wherever necessary - would of course appear in the catalogue in addition to the Denizot text, perhaps as extended captions.'


In all this, KK clearly got his way. However, his next concern was:

'Excerpts from “I GOT UP” should, if possible, be shown in color. Of course I only mean the front of the postcards. The multi-colored reproductions of the postcards are very important to me personally and ironic in the context of art catalogues, especially since they neither want to interpret, nor manipulate, material value. I very much hope that it will be possible to make these expenses.'

As you can see, colour was only used to show the front (overleaf) and back of a single postcard. The remaining postcards were shown as small black and white photos over ten pages.

sktg7ekkrfgu3oxg3w9fnw_thumb_d90f

However, KK had only budgeted for ten pages to be used for the 'I GOT UP' series, which suggests he had accepted that only about 75 out of 365 postcards would be reproduced, about 20% of the total. Which is quite a compromise for a book describing itself as 'One Year's Production' and representing an exhibition that featured 100% of the postcards in their original size and in full colour.

But KK got the last laugh in that he somehow got away with (perhaps by not mentioning it in his May 28 letter) reproducing a total of 30 all-black pages of which this is a double-page sample.

ffw0025vpsmrqwrc95ikdnuyq_thumb_d910

Why? Well, out of loyalty to On Kawara, I suppose. 15 such double-pages appeared in the Journal for 1973, being black and white photos of the night sky taken in Stockholm at the beginning of 1973. Taken at a time when looking up into the starry sky at night made On Kawara feel his utter insignificance. A feeling surely related to how he felt while coming up with his Million Years project.

The darkness and the emptiness just go on and on. Maybe one gets that feeling as one turns over the black pages of the catalogue. The lack of consciousness just goes on and on… On the other hand, these 'blank' pages could have been used for extra coverage of 'I MET', 'I READ' and 'I WENT'. Let's consider 'I MET':

ko3al4a1sieog0uakyzcnw_thumb_d91f

24 out of 365 'I MET' lists were published. Covering the period from September 16, 1973, to October 7, 1973. Part of which time was spent in Roscoe where On and Hiroko would go for fishing weekends in New York state. Obviously, that choice of materials would have come from On Kawara. So as not to give certain things away? For some reason, On didn't mind all 365 sheets of 'I MET' being available for exhibition purposes, but he was less keen on the material being made widely available in permanent book form. Perhaps he knew that by presenting so much information in the exhibition, no viewer would be able to come to terms with it in the relatively short time the exhibition was open.

Similarly for 'I WENT', there were only five pages published. A tiny percentage of the whole year, which again was made available as part of the exhibition.


8a1vc2eksi002bdp700025ys7mkw_thumb_d920


Five days in a row from June 1, 1973, to June 5, 1973. When On was in Halifax and going off the map each day to do something at Musquoidoboit Harbour. In other words, the maps chosen could hardly be more obscure. Though if you are familiar with I MET you realise that ON and Hiroko were looking after Kasper's kids on these five days.

Lastly, 'I READ'. The purchaser of the catalogue gets twenty pages of this. They show the kind of articles On had been reading and how he marked up the pages for his own reference. Sample pages from January, February, March and April, so quite generous compared to the amount reproduced of 'I MET', 'I WENT' and 'I GOT UP'.


ez8bqotyrxex9v0025i5zzz3a_thumb_d921

Actually - correction - they are not just sample pages. They are a continuous sequence, because, of course, On Kawara only filed away articles that related to each Date Painting. So what's there is everything from the 13th Date Painting, in January, to the 24th Date Painting of the year, in April. Eleven paintings out of eighty-five being, once again, a relatively small proportion of the total year's production.

Would it have been 'better' if the 30 black pages had been ditched and the space used for more of the everyday observation series? Yes, but there was something perverse going on. On had a compulsion to record it all, yet he wanted to keep everything a secret. He couldn't give without simultaneously holding back. Or at least that's how it seems to me.

Maybe that takes us back to the importance of complementariness. The gift of personal information complements the absolutely private individual.







FOUR

All that sets us up nicely for the show's opening on August 30, 1974. Here is the poster designed by Kasper König making use of On Kawara's 100-year calendar that was produced by William Copley in 1969. In other words all the days that On had lived are marked in one colour, and all those days on which he made a Date Painting are overpainted in another colour.


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On and Hiroko did not attend the opening. Although, as we'll see, they saw the exhibition before it closed in October. The Kunsthalle Bern is on a cobbled street. It is a classical building, presenting a symmetrical frontage with a six-pillared entrance up a few steps at its mid-point. There is a photograph of the building from 1969, made distinctly odd by a station wagon parked on the pavement right by the entrance. Who pulls up right in front of a public space in their own personal transport?

The photo below, shows the piece of furniture that crops up in the photos of the 85 Date Paintings that appear in the catalogue. Indeed it crops up eight times in the four pages given over to the Date Paintings. I did suspect it was a bin, but having been to Bern in 2024 I can say it contains and disguises a radiator.

25siiimyt002bwam002bizqzexta_thumb_d89b Reproduced with the forbearance of the copyright holder, I hope.

However, as far as the show was concerned, it supported a tray, or large box lid, which contained books or binders whose pages can be scrutinised and turned over.

The photo below shows how the postcards were displayed for the exhibition. In such a way that both sides of each postcard could be looked at. Which makes sense, as both sides need to be seen: one side complements the other.

Visitor 1: "I believe there is going to be an artist's talk."

Visitor 2. "Really? I heard On Kawara didn't attend his own openings and never talked about his work in public."


eh0dcqzmsragjfazkvspeg_thumb_d916 Reproduced with the forbearance of the copyright holder, I hope.

Remember the drawing that Kasper König made (back in May) to go along with the plan he sketched of the show? It shows a visitor in the entrance hall of Kunsthalle Bern, where the early Journals were displayed, his eye apparently much taken by his sighting of the Date Paintings. Well, that puts me in mind of the following photo, taken in 1969, when Joseph Beuys took part in a group show at Kunsthalle Bern. Just look at the swaggering confidence of the man. A big iron on his wrist. Of course, he was rear gunner in a bomber in the Second World War, so that maybe explains why he gives the impression of being some kind of postmodern, European cowboy. A gunslinger to amuse the baby boomer generation. Nothing could be more certain than that he has returned to Bern, in a badly parked station wagon, to give the artist's talk in the absence of On Kawara.

ivxciybxsugwgc3c5rjxhw_thumb_d886 Reproduced with the forbearance of the copyright holder, I hope.

Joseph Beuys and On Kawara must have met. But did they? I think they would have met in New York as early as 1970 if Konrad Fischer had been supportive of Joseph Beuys. But Beuys wasn't part of his stable, so Fischer made sure that Beuys wasn't part of the international show at the Guggenheim that On Kawara was in. Would they have been impressed by each other? I mean they are opposites. Publicity-seeking Beuys is all presence, while Kawara is entirely absent, leaving the most substantive work in his place.

They both (OK and JB) had a connection with Halifax. But I think they just missed each other. On Kawara's 'Million Years' show was at Halifax in 1971 and he visited the Nova Scotia art school in 1973. Joseph Beuys went there to a conference of prominent artists in 1970. And, to the surprise of all, emerged as the conference's natural leader, being so approachable, hugging everyone, and always having something inspiring to say. The other artists just stood around, listening to the man dressed in fishing jacket and homburg. Not an easy costume to pull off. Certainly not as a German. A little more humility was expected from a citizen of a defeated nation. I think that's something that On Kawara had to face up to as well. They both chose to become rootless, international, men of the world, though they adopted opposite strategies.

At some stage, Joseph Beuys would have met Kasper König, and surely König told Beuys all about the New York-based artist whose fascination with time and consciousness was giving rise to a singular and astonishing oeuvre. For me that is enough to justify what I'm going to say next. Or rather what Joseph Beuys is going to say.

vyxvpiryr0ugd4ycyee9bw_thumb_d915 Reproduced with the forbearance of the copyright holder, I hope.

"Now what do we have here?" says the laconic master, immediately getting everyone's attention without use of the word 'Achtung'.

"Simply the date. Days that belong to you, me and to the artist. Ja. But how many of us really own these dates?"

Is this going to work?

"In contrast with the simple, straight aesthetic of On Kawara, you can see I've been working with some plaster, beeswax and fat in the corner of the gallery. What does my humble, bumbling line on the floor have to say about On Kawara's restrained rationality? They play off each other as opposites. Don't they? They sing together."

I could listen to this version of Jospeh Beuys all day long.

"Do you know a Japanese band called The Beatles? Nein? Do you know a German band called The Rolling Stones? Ja? This is one of theirs." And Beuys nods so that a henchman puts their finger on the play button of a tape recorder.

"When I'm watchin' my TV, and a man comes on and tells me
How white my shirts can be.
But, he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't smoke
The same cigarettes as me.
I can't get no - oh, no, no, no - hey, hey, hey!
That's what I say."

And the same unseen finger presses the stop button.

ypbdw6qgruipulzsyt00250vw_thumb_d906 Reproduced and annotated with the forbearance of the copyright holder, I hope.

"By the way, On and I do smoke the same brand of cigarettes. I am not proud of that. I don't suppose On is proud of it. We are children of the 20th Century, formed by the desperate times we've lived through.

"By the way, also. Do you want to know what On Kawara looks like? He goes about in a homburg, a freshly laundered white shirt and a fishing jacket. Nein, don't laugh! - I'm serious. All truly great artists would look exactly the same if you could see into their souls.

"I look around and what do I see. A group of people dressed in fishing jackets and homburg hats. Nein, nein, don't laugh every time I speak! Everyone is capable of being an artist. That's what On is saying in his work. That's what I am saying as I stand here, naked before you, God help me."

gcsmdigjt16ksmpioxtsvg_thumb_d914 Reproduced with the forbearance of the copyright holder, I hope.

"I should not have invoked a God that does not exist. We exist, that's all we know. It is up to us to transform our lives into all that they could be. You, Sir. Is your life all it could be? If not, what is holding you back? The government? The university? Other people's expectations? Just do what you like, you might be surprised at how little people expect from you. You might be surprised at what you can get away with. Go on a road-trip across Europe. Stay at cheap hotels. Look around some days, stay in and mark time other days. Make love every which way at night. You can do it. On and Hiroko did it so that you can follow in their footsteps. Ja! You might be very much surprised how much juice you can squeeze out of a lemon each day!"

"Let me tell you about On coming back from a tour of South American cities a few years ago. He was with Hiroko, his brilliant partner, who told me the story I am about to tell you. He had boxes like these ones, except bigger, filled with paintings. Two different sized boxes, for size A bilder and size B bilder. Maybe ten boxes altogether, because he was transporting about 50 Date Paintings, which were all the bilder he had made while staying in Lima, Caracas, Brasilia, Montevideo, Sau Paulo, and so on.

kwtxvibdsss6kmxlpbsm0025a_thumb_d885 Reproduced with the forbearance of the copyright holder, I hope.

"So they collected the boxes with the rest of their luggage and made their way to customs. On thought he had better declare them. Big mistake. The customs officers wouldn't believe that the Dates were, in fact, paintings. Why would anyone paint the date? They didn't know what to make of them. They looked at his passport and all it said was 'Tourist'. They thought the dates might be a code. Which dates had been recorded and which were missed out? What was the significance of the background colour? Was there a pattern? They kept the paintings for about a month then gave up, and told On to take them away. But they still didn't know what to make of the work. I could have told them. 'We won't live for even a fraction of a million years, so we'd better do our living in those few days that we have got. Which add up to thousands if you play your cards right'.

"Today, yesterday, tomorrow. That's the time-frame to focus on. I'm here today, I was in Dusseldorf yesterday, I will be in Scotland tomorrow, chasing deer from one end of Loch Awe to the other."

At the end of the talk, there is a spattering of applause. Beuys acknowledges it with an ironic bow.

Later, in a Bern bierkeller, Joseph Beuys can be found talking to a string of A-list art celebs who were also at the opening. For fifteen minutes, he has been knocking back premium lager from a litre pot, while Andy Warhol has been sipping from a Coke while fiddling with his camera. A single photo exists of their exchange, which was overheard for posterity by the invigilator from the Bern Gallery who took the photo:

4kghjwaftsmk7ibmqoquza_thumb_e89c Reproduced and annotated with the forbearance of the copyright holder, I hope.

Dear reader, have you read enough meticulously researched text about the opening of On Kawara's first major show? All right then, let's move on.





FIVE

One can see why On Kawara would not have felt comfortable to be at his own opening in Bern. A very private individual surrounded by all that personal work. He may well have been self-conscious about attracting attention as the individual responsible for it. People might even have been tempted to take his photograph in conjunction with the work.

So he stayed in New York and Date Painted. Well, there were five DPs made in September, all in size B. The September 13 and 18 Dates are linked to the same story, clippings about which were taken from the NYT for 'I READ'. I mean the story about the Japanese Red Army.

cs48dfikqeupx1ojudhwwg_thumb_10301 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

The Japanese terrorists were against the Japanese government and wanted world revolution. That's all. On Kawara was a totally different kind of internationalist. Though I can see why this story would have held his attention.

hehkkqvttkcjoagrmh7maw_thumb_10302 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

But On Kawara would have been getting curiouser and curiouser about the show in Bern. Such an ambitious production, the likes of which had never been seen before. Here is an 'I GOT UP' from right at the end of the September, published in On Kawara: horizontality/verticality following On's flight to Switzerland. Hiroko was with him. She had been heavily involved in the show's preparations and wouldn't have wanted to be left out.

t0025tatlqps1kpnna5ttoftg_thumb_d91a Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

A new series of postcard for Ikko Narahara! On and Hiroko met him often in New York during 1973, so he would have featured on many 'I MET' lists in the Bern show. Visitors would have had a chance to pick out his name looking down upon the long, square-shaped vitrine as marked on Kasper König's diagram.

I wonder if Ikko Narahara preferred the month's worth of postcards he received from his old address in New York, or the month's worth he received from Europe when On was visiting his own first, large, public show.

On Kawara stayed for two days in Geneva. He must have been itching to get to Bern. He was in Bern from the beginning of October.

ikm002bk8erre002b41002bivt0yvha_thumb_d91d Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Excuse me while I take a peek at what the hotel looks like in 2021, courtesy of Google. A world heritage site. And what a charming map. The hotel is in the top half of it, surrounded by medieval churches and clock towers, and the art gallery ('Kunsthalle') is the focal point of On's movements in the bottom half, close to an enormous bridge over the river.

yllnk9tgsl69h3yccwh9uw_thumb_d91c Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

The Kawaras had already been in Bern for a few days by this time, and October 6 was the last day of the show, and so the artist would no doubt have his reasons for taking a final look round it. The first thing one notices is the bridge and the water dammed upstream of it. There is quite some height difference between the downstream water and the art gallery. I didn't know Switzerland's capital city was so dominated by water. Stockholm comes to mind, though its relationship to water is completely different.

There is a casino nearby. On might have been tempted to go straight there and play. Certainly, he would have been nervous the first time he approached the gallery, which was on October 1. For on that occasion he was going to be a viewer of his art work, not the artist. And he must have hoped very much indeed that he would like what he saw.

Let's imagine that On Kawara was entering the Kunsthalle, Bern for the first. Let's try and see the exhibition through his eyes on that occasion. Maybe with the aid of those diagrams that Kasper König made.

yktuibmosnm002b0eevdfjzlq_thumb_d899-2 Reproduced with the forbearance of Kasper König, I hope.

On does not spend much time with the Journals for 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969. They show that he made a lot of Dates beginning in 1966… They show that he went to Mexico in 1968… They show that he commemorated the moon landing in 1969… They show that he made a painting every single day through the first three months of 1970…

He passes through to the Date Painting room. He walks around the outside of the inner square, looking down at the pages of the Journal. He can hardly believe that Kasper got away with the thirty black pages being put into the catalogue as well as the Journal… The monthly lists of DPs are a handy summary, and the eye travels, easily enough, between those and the Dates on the walls. What is this feeling that fills him? Relief? Pride? Joy? He is the Date Collector. He is the Date Painter. He is the Time Artist.

u80025h3jyjsdsof8g0ukd4vq_thumb_d92f Reproduced with the forbearance of Kasper König, I hope.

After a few circuits of the Dates, it's through to the side room where the 'I WENT' maps have been delicately affixed to the walls and the 'I MET' sheets lie face-up in the chest-high display 'square'. Those 'I MET' lists where Hiroko Hiraoka is not the first name catch On's eye. Then something swops round and he sees just how often Hiroko's name tops the list of people he met each day. He is moved.

On was on his own in Stockholm. Then Hiroko joined him and there was the special week in Dakar. No, that is a secret. But there is obviously something special about 'I WENT' for March 16, 1973. Surely every visitor to the show must have noticed it. Not to mention all the 'I MET' lists where Hiroko's is the only name on the page. Though Kasper says "No, no, no," to both these observations. And On trusts Kasper.

tgd7qlsnrm6d0025u2jabbjua_thumb_d92e Reproduced with the forbearance of Kasper König, I hope.

Halifax…Cape Breton…Salmon fishing….

"Look, On. The day a salmon nibbled my fly!"

"I have not forgotten."

Then back to New York for a road-trip right across the States from east to west. With Hiroko in the passenger seat.

After circling the 'I MET' square a few times, On and Hiroko pass through to where the postcards shine through their transparent plastic setting.

s7wl93xeq9ixkxle99dhua_thumb_d92d Reproduced with the forbearance of Kasper König, I hope.

On's addresses… On's recipients addresses…The pictures on the postcards… The days brought to life at the time…The days brought back to life in retrospect… What a tourist On was and always would be…Postcards to Konrad Fischer. On smiling every time he placed a postcard to Dusseldorf in a postbox in red-neck country… No postcards to Hiroko. That's because he was with her every day. Good, all good. On smiles.

"What a friend we have in Kasper," On says to Hiroko.

"I was just thinking that myself."





SIX

The Kawaras stayed on in Bern until the middle of the month, and On made Date Paintings on the 13th, 15th and 17th.

yvvomrilq7avgnvkiclt3q_thumb_d917 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

As you can see, he placed a cut-down page of newspaper in the Date Painting box, but he didn't read any newspapers when in Switzerland. The 'I READ" pages all have a a cross scrawled across them. I suspect this was because On could not speak German at this stage. Something he would have to rectify before he went to Berlin for a year in 1976.

On the 17th, On sent 'I AM STILL ALIVE' telegrams to Rene Denizot in Paris and Teresa O'Connor in New York. The one to Teresa would also have been seen by Aoki as they lived together in a flat on Christopher Street during the cold months of the year. Which in New York certainly includes October.


On and Hiroko spent eighteen days in a row in Bern. I think that this is because Einstein was living there in 1905, the year that he came up with his theory of relativity. Einstein stayed in a flat that was within site of a clocktower and this was said to have influenced his writings of the time. Every day On Kawara went past this clocktower, it must be one of the biggest and most complex clock faces in the world. Although his I GOT UP Postcards were general views of the city for the first fortnight, for the last five days they show the clocktower. I go into this in some detail, especially the Einstein link, in the GAME ON chapter called 'BERN'.


On and Hiroko travelled back to Geneva - where they'd stopped off on the way to Bern - on the 19th, and a Date Painting was produced there on the 20th.

lewd2u002bftfumemgziiqitq_thumb_d918 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Now again the 'I READ for October 20 is crossed through and otherwise blank. Yet On could read French. So he may have been avoiding reading the news while in Switzerland for other reasons. As he had done in Japan in December 1970 and January 1971.

For 25 days in all, On Kawara sent a postcard to Ikko Narahara from Hotel Moderne, Geneva (four cards); then Hotel Schlussel, Bern (eighteen cards; On had a really close look at his own show); then Hotel Lido, Geneva (three cards). The getting up times are not exactly hippy-esque. After recovering from jet lag, On GOT UP at: 9.54 A.M., 8.03 A.M., 7.58, A.M., 9.19 A.M., 9.10 A.M., 9.02 A.M., 9.04 A.M., 9.38 A.M., 8.47 A.M., 7.54 A.M., 8.56 A.M., 8.47 A.M, 8.44 A.M., 9.05 A.M., 9.04 A.M., 9.25 A.M., 9.05 A.M., 8.36 A.M., 9.35 A.M., 8.17 A.M., 8.31 A.M., 8.09 A.M., 8.37 A.M..

Wherever you go in Switzerland there is a clock mounted on a church spire telling you what time it is. What a wild, wild country. Eh, Ikko?

4djl3q2srnigqwpdonmcta_thumb_10304.mbokkqxotc2bdq47rlzrmw_thumb_10305 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Look around the prosperous streets of the middle-class burghers of Bern. No need for alcoholic counselling, like at 24 East 22nd Street, New York, because there are no alcoholics. No need for psychiatrists' couches, like at 24 East 22nd Street, because everyone is sane and well-adjusted. No need for eight-storey buildings, like at 24 East 22nd Street, because there are no discotheques, no typewriter repair-shops, no photographer's studios, no printing factories, no artists studios and no psychiatrists' consulting rooms all wanting to be piled on top of each other. Just houses. And churches pointing the way to eternal salvation.

The Kawaras then flew back to New York. The surprising thing is that On Kawara went straight into more Date Painting. He made paintings on October 24, 25, 29 and 31. Why did he not take it easy for a few days, to get over the jet lag and get used to being back in the Big Apple? I suspect it was because he knew Heinz Nigg - a man with art world connections that On had met in Bern - was coming to stay with them, and that it might be awkward to do any Date Painting for the length of his stay, which was set to be until the middle of November.

In 2021 Heinz Nigg published an autobiography in German: Video: Ich sehe! An English edition (Video: I see!) will be available at some point, but I couldn't wait around. Fortunately, all I had to do was point the camera of my iPhone at the page and the text burst into English. The top section of the New York chapter's opening page explains that Heinz Nigg had been enthusiastic about On Kawara's exhibition in Bern and had been invited to New York by the Kawaras. His boss, Johann Gachnang, had travelled to New York as well, in order to discuss with Carl Andre the prospect of a show at Bern, and with the aim of discussing the possibility of shows with Donald Judd and Clyfford Still.

As Heinz uses a diary format throughout this chapter, I will do the same. Returning from my camera to paraphrase his words in so far as they discussed On Kawara or his world…

3 November, 1974

Heinz Nigg travelled to New York with Johannes Gachnang (know as Johnny). At Kennedy Airport they were met by the Kawaras who drove the pair to the New York flat of the Königs, who lived on the 19th floor of a block in a smart neighbourhood (that would be 205 East 78th Street). The children are described as 'still small'. The flat was minimally furnished, though there was a red Date Painting on the wall of the dining room. Kasper König translated the English spoken by the Kawaras into German, for the benefit of Johnny. In other words, Heinz Nigg and On Kawara could communicate in English.

At 9.30pm the Kawaras, bidding farewell to the König family and Johnny, took Heinz to their flat on 23rd street. (I suspect the author means 22nd Street, since that's the address suggested by other sources of information, including many outgoing 'I GOT UP' cards of 1974.) It was in a rundown area and the Kawaras seemed tense while parking the car, with good reason as it happened, given the behaviour of one passer-by. A lift, for which a key was needed, took them to the seventh floor. Heinz was told that the Kawaras knew nobody else in the building.

They arrived at a large room, 25 metres by 10 metres. (That is massive.) There was also a smaller room where the Kawaras slept, which was also where the bathroom was situated. Heinz’s bed was in the large studio separated by a screen. It had been made comfortable for him, with a radio, and with access to the bathroom, the kitchen (which was inset into the large room), a refrigerator and a table for his own use.

On Kawara's workroom was a small area in the main room. He had a book case there with articles on his work and books about Conceptual Art. There was also a collection of art objects that had come from artist friends.

There were recent Date Paintings on at least one of the walls. And there was a ping-pong table in the middle of the large room. (This makes me think that the photo below was taken on the 7th floor of the 22nd Street flat, though the caption in the Phaidon volume suggest it was taken at 140 Greene Street. The Date Paintings on the wall are from earlier in 1974 so East 22nd Street seems the most likely.)

xw16zbtjqwkvdun773mumg_thumb_d8b8-2 Reproduced with the forbearance of the copyright holder, I hope.

Heinz and the Kawaras drank cola and smoked, while talking about the origins of Conceptual Art in New York ten years before. Then they retired to bed.

Let me break in again just to say that this is an invaluable record. Just as Ansell Bray's personal account of the fishing trip to Nova Scotia in 1973 is. Just as Nobu Fukui's emails to me are. Just as Tatsuo Kondo's letters to Tokyo are. And so on.

4 November, 1974

Over breakfast in the flat, Heinz talked with the Kawaras about their origins in Japan. The Second World War, Japanese nationalism, that nation's isolation and the fact that you cannot become Japanese just by going there.

Heinz went to Central Park where he met the Königs. He then wandered New York, sight-seeing, before getting back to the flat. More conversation with the Kawaras, Ping-pong. Then bed.

5 November, 1974

Heinz, Johnny and Kasper visited Donald Judd in his studio. Later they met Carl Andre. Gallery visits took up the rest of the day, including taking in the Leo Castelli Gallery. Johnny and Heinz bought two bottles of wine for dinner with the Kawaras. They found On working in his small study, marking the Sundays past and the Sundays to come, as dots on his 100-year calendar. On wore a leather cap to keep the light from shining directly into his eyes. He looked like an accountant. And the marks looked like musical notation. Heinz wondered if it was deliberate that the flat looked out onto a clock. They enjoyed a fine dinner.

After dinner, once Johannes/Johnny had gone back to stay with the Königs, a couple of older artists were discussed at length, Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, and a couple of younger ones, Dan Graham and Joseph Kosuth, who was the first Conceptual Artist to have a show at the Leo Castelli Gallery. The day ended with Heinz writing in his diary that On Kawara spoke in riddles. What did he mean by saying that he wanted to remain invisible and that he would make no official statements about his work? (This confirms that the consciously anti-publicity stance comes from very early in On Kawara's career.)

6 November, 1974

Heinz got up late and went to galleries. Heinz was back at the Kawaras by 5pm. He had a long conversation with On about his early life. On nearly died three times while living in Tokyo, he was so poor. His father was rich, but On wanted to be independent of his father's wealth. However, when he emigrated to Mexico in 1962, he did accept money from him, when the Mexican state bought out his father's company. The change of mind is not explained, at least not by Heinz in his diary.

Ursula Meyer's book, Conceptual Art, published in 1972, comprised Heinz's late night reading. (On Kawara sent 23 postcards to Ursula Meyer in 1973, and Kasper König included them in the Bern show. So I assume Heinz had picked out this book from On Kawara's aforementioned bookshelves.)

7 November, 1974

Heinz spent the day networking with Carl Andre and Donald Judd. At the Kawaras, there was a visitor from Japan, a ballet critic. (I note that On Kawara was not visiting Carl Andre and Donald Judd. They don't seem to have been part of his friendship group. After all, according to Nobu Fukui, Carl Andre simply didn't get On's work.)

8 November, 1974

Heinz met Johnny and Kasper and they went to the studio of John Chamberlain. (This may have been the studio at 405 East 13th Street, where On Kawara first made Date Paintings, as when On left that place in 1967, it was Chamberlain who took it over, as he needed more space for his assemblages of car parts.) Chamberlain's studio looked like a garage according to Heinz. Later, Kasper accused Heinz of reading too much and not looking enough. Back at the Kawaras, the talk went on until 2am. Heinz finished the day by reading a Carl Andre catalogue.

9 November, 1974

Conversation with the Kawaras about living in America. Everything happens quickly. Jobs, acquaintances, friends. Hiroko's mother had to comply with an arranged marriage. (I don't get ho this fits in. Perhaps its contrasting traditional, slowly evolving Japanese ways with lightning fast New York and its speed dating. On gave Heinz an article to read in Studio International by René Denizot. The text was pretty abstract. (René Denizot's texts are indeed tough going. They are Beckettesque, but without humour.) The fridge was empty. So Heinz went out to shop.

On Kawara told Heinz about his youth. He was a good pupil to begin with. Then doubts came. He would read during class and not answer the teacher's questions. Sometimes he would fall asleep in class because he'd been reading all night. The teachers had to be careful how they dealt with him because his father was an important figure in the town. In the art class, On was taught about modern art, and artists such as Mondrian. He would copy artists that he liked.

So that the virus of modern art was not transferred to his fellow pupils, On was given the key to his own studio. The fact that he didn't go to art school disappointed his art teacher. On Kawara wanted to stand on his own two feet, and moved four hours away to Tokyo. He stayed overnight in subway stations and rummaged in book stores. A friendly bookseller let him sleep in a box under a book table. On learned about three artists: a puppeteer, a painter and a sculptor. These three became his friends. Through them he came into contact with people at Tokyo University. One big problem puzzled On and his generation. How could his parents' generation adopt American democratic values so quickly and absolutely? What about their own traditions?

On Kawara started to write. A paper by him on 'Beauty and Ugliness' was published by the Philosophy department. After about six months he could afford his own apartment. He began to draw. First with pencil on the cheapest paper. Then with coloured pencils. He expressed Japan's existential problems induced by the war. The Modern Art Museum in Tokyo owns a series of these drawings. He tries to make it clear to the Japanese that his more recent work, the Conceptual Art made in America, has got nothing to do with Japan, or if it has, on a very abstract level. His work is more about his years of wandering in Mexico, Paris and elsewhere. (Much of this is new. Although Jonathan Watkins, in his essay in the Phaidon volume about On Kawara, covers some of this ground, following his own discussions with On Kawara.)

10 November, 1974

Johnny and the Königs arrived in the afternoon. The on Kawara catalogue for his Brussels show and the 100-Year screen print were discussed. It was decided that 365 of them should be printed, one original for every day of the year, 1974. Half would go to the gallery at Bern. There was pumpkin bread for tea. Then ping-pong.

11 November, 1974

Heinz wrote postcards, played ping-pong with On, and at 5 o'clock went for an aperitif at Gotham Bookstore. He bought the Whole Earth Catalogue and a booklet with 22 poems by Patti Smith. At home, On, Hiroko and two guests were playing mah-jongg. Heinz eats rice, watches TV and reads an article by Lucy Lippard on Sol Le Witt.

Who were the mah-jongg players? Well, the 'I MET' list for the day shows this:

November 11, 1974
Hugh Shiroo
Hiroko Hiraoka
Heinz Nigg
Miyabi Ichikawa
Ay-O
Ken-Ichi Tatsuno

Hugh Shiroo would have been met the previous day, staying until after midnight. So I'm thinking the mah-jongg players were two from Miyabi Ichikawa, Ay-O and Ken-Ichi Tatsuno. Ay-O was a successful artist of On Kawara's generation, who went through several very different phases in his development, including performance art, and was an associate of Naim June Paik. I imagine On got up late the next day. Indeed he did, 12.44 A.M.

12 November, 1974

In the afternoon Heinz went to a bookshop in the East Village and bought several books for a friend. At the Kawaras there was a homely atmosphere and they enjoyed stuffed cabbage leaves. Heinz intended to call Sol LeWitt and arrange a meeting. Heinz then made notes about Sol LeWitt's philosophy of art based on an article of his he'd read from a 1967 copy of Art Forum.

13 November, 1974

In the afternoon, Heinz read more about Sol LeWitt, then met Carl Andre at 5pm. Carl suggested that there was too much chatter about art and not enough looking. Heinz had a walk through Greenwich Village. Back home, the Kawaras had another Japanese guest, an artist who was also an art teacher and a journalist. Heinz was not at his most curious when it come to members of the Japanese/New York community. Here is the 'I MET' list for the day:

November 13, 1974
Hiroko Hiraoka
Heinz Nigg
Frank Donegan
Hirotsugu Aoki
Teresa O’Connor

The Japanese guest mentioned by Nigg must have been Hirotsugu Aoki, one of On's closest associates. (Though it's true that I don't know who Frank Donegan is.) However, Aoki was an abstract painter and sculptor, who came to New York to further this interest in that, but made his living from his carpentry skills. So 'art teacher and journalist' doesn't stack up. Maybe it's the translation function I'm using. Teresa O'Connor, Aoki's wife, was an English professor and a journalist.

14 November, 1974

Up early and already Heinz was with 'Kasper the king' at 10am. Many telephone calls. Heinz phoned Sol LeWitt to rearrange their meeting. Back at the Königs for an evening meal of spaghetti carbonara. Lastly to the Kawaras. Heinz listened to Patti Smith's single 'Hey Joe'. Heinz wrote up his diary and realised his New York trip was in full swing. (Given the set-up, if Heinz Nigg listened to 'Hey Joe', then I guess On and Hiroko did as well.)

15 November, 1974

The return flight to Switzerland was booked. Then it was off to see the king! Kasper König was talking to Angela Westwater on the phone and Carl Andre was more interested than ever in the prospect of a show at Bern. They went on to meet Richard Serra at his studio in the port area. Serra talked big and worked big. After lunch in an Italian restaurant, Kasper drove Johnny and Heinz to a well-guarded building. On Kawara's storage unit had shelving on all four walls. This was where he stored his Date Paintings, each in a cardboard box with a newspaper cutting. Heinz was overwhelmed. On Kawara must surely talk about this work into which he put so much effort. Not just painting the pictures, but packing them, storing them and managing them so that they could be exhibited anywhere in the world. Heinz finished his diary entry by quoting Sol LeWitt, who he clearly had become enamoured with: 'If the artist carries through his idea and makes it into visible form, then all the steps in the process are of importance.'

Back to the Kawaras where there was paella to eat. (Where did all this food at the Kawaras come from? Did Hiroko produce it?) Dan Graham was there and Heinz suggested he was highly thought of by the younger generation. Dan stood for the autonomy of art and brought popular culture on board. He talked quietly, but with an air of authority. According to Dan, internationalism was dead and there would be an opportunity for local artists. Kasper König dropped in and an exciting table tennis tournament took place.

So who would have been in the tournament? On and Hiroko. Heinz and Johannes. Kasper and Dan. But who else? Surely any ping-pong tournament needs a minimum of eight people.

Let's,check the 'I MET':

November 15, 1974
HIROKO HIRAOKA
FRANK WEATHERS
HEINZ NIGG
JOHANNES GACHNANG
JACK PLUNKETT
DAN GRAHAM
KASPER KONIG

I can't find out anything about Frank Weathers or Jack Plunkett. I would rather the seventh and eighth names had been Sol LeWitt and Joseph Beuys, but one can't have everything. Let's assume that On Kawara won the ping-pong tournament.

16 November, 1974

Penultimate day in New York. A busy one. Heinz met with Sol LeWitt and Donald Judd. Later, Johnny and Heinz walked through Greenwich Village. Johnny bought toys for the König children, a mouse and an owl. Then they ate T-bone steak and talked for a long time together. (I say again, On is not part of the meetings with his fellow conceptual artists. Carl Andre, Donald Judd, Richard Serra, Sol LeWitt. He did meet with Dan Graham though. Dan being a pal.)

17 November, 1974

Tired and excited, Heinz and Johnny flew home. The latter had achieved a lot. Heinz wondered what would linger in his own memory from the two weeks in New York, immersed in art. He mused that art lives through argument.

Let me try and take stock of Henz Nigg's visit to New York. First, the fact that he was put up by On Kawara emphasises a Japanese notion of hospitality. When On and Hiroko returned to New York in 1969, they were able to stay in the lofts of Nobu Fukui and Aoki. Later they stayed with the Konigs or the Naraharas. The fact that On and Hiroko were living in a big flat that had been rented by the Naraharas. It makes sense that On and Hiroko were able to offer hospitality in 1974.

Only it's slightly different. Heinz Nigg was a European and seems only to have been interested in the conspicuously ambitious international artists (Carl Andre, Donald Judd, Sol Lewitt) in whose number he included On Kawara. However, On's primary friendship group included Nobu Fukui and Takeshi Kawashima, who were both talented, practising painters. I'm sure either of them would have been glad to get a show at Bern. Might a group show have been contemplated? The title of which might have been: Post-WW2 Japanese Painters in New York: the ongoing battle between abstraction and representation.

Of course, it may be that On Kawara tried to promote his friends to these visiting gallerists. It's just that in writing up his diary, Heinz didn't reflect that. Heinz wasn't interested in Japanese painters in New York. He was interested in New York, New York. Nevertheless, if this had been the line up for the ping-pong tournament, he might have changed his mind:

November 15, 1974
HIROKO HIRAOKA
HIROTSUGI AOKI
HEINZ NIGG
JOHANNES GACHNANG
NOBU FUKUI
SOROKU TOYOSHIMA
TAKESHI KAWASHIMA

Still only one winner in my view: ON KAWARA. Which leads one to wonder to what extent On's international success, the support of Kasper König, Konrad Fischer, Pontus Hulten, the Bern crew, sowed division in the New York Japanese art community. Were Nobu Fukui, Tatsuo Kondo, Soroku Toyoshima and Takeshi Kawashima pleased for On, or were they jealous? Perhaps I'll find out as this exercise progresses.

As for On Kawara, free from the Patti Smith-playing presence of his Swiss guest, his Date Painting could be resumed:

i0025ct6dqut002biei0wc1gdjiw_thumb_daa8 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

And, for a while, games of ping-pong may have been exclusively with Hiroko and perhaps the Königs.

But what was happening in the world that On was clipping and sticking into his 'I READ' on Date days?

NOV.21, 1974: '17 Die as Bombs destroy 2 British Pubs'.

NOV.22, 1974: 'A British Jetliner Is Hijacked in Dubai.'

NOV.27, 1974: 'Ethiopia Is Said to Move Army Units Into Eritrea.'

By the beginning of December, On was Date Painting every day up until the 8th of the month.

dc4s2zpnt8iun0002bzq6m0025fg_thumb_daaa Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

This doesn't mean that there was no table-tennis going on. Ping-pong was the ideal complementary activity to Date Painting, especially when On was waiting for his acrylic to dry.

All right, what does 'I READ' tell us?

sfwgpbmrq7oh0025xssmcnccq_thumb_1038b

Looks happy enough.

But with both On's birthday (on the 24th of December) and Christmas fast-approaching, the Kawaras decided to go on another road-trip. The first Date Painting stop would be Atlanta on December the 23rd.



STOP 2: ATLANTA, GEORGIA


December 23, 1974. Arrive.
December 24, 1974. Date Paint.
December 25, 1974. Date Paint.
December 26, 1973. Leave by car. This was not the Kawaras first stay in Atlanta. Therefore neither the postcards, the 'I WENT' map, or the Date Paintings, are reproduced in my two main sources of illustrations. That's the books Date Paintings in 89 Citiies and On Kawara: horizontality/verticality. One could think of these road-trips as On Kawara's latest enthusiasm. Earlier enthusiasms being playing mah-jongg and fishing in upstate New York or Nova Scotia. You could call these childlike enthusiasms, though the abiding passion was for Date Painting, and that was an existential obsession. As a child I had a passion for football. I mean I would be outside with a ball looking for other players, all day, all summer. Other passions included collecting bubble-gum cards and playing marbles. When the marbles season was upon the children of Townhill Road, the game-playing was constant and endless and non-stop. I was the main instigator, but all the other kids eventually got on board. Perhaps that explains my unshakeable belief that this work will find an audience. STOP 3: NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA December 26, 1974. Arrive by car.
December 27, 1974. Date Paint
December 28, 1974. Date Paint.
December 29, 1974. Leave by car.

This is the first time that On Kawara has visited New Orleans, so I have some high-quality data both available to me and to share…


imfbrwtkswk6apzzv8aava_thumb_d985 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.


The postcards were going to John Baldessari during this trip, but I don't feel like riffing off that just yet. I will leave that to the upcoming year. Let's see where the Kawaras went on the 27th.


cvybjbfbrmssplggh9ztfa_thumb_d992 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

There is no longer a hotel at 1725 Tulane Avenue. The building there is now the University Medical Centre of New Orleans. It looks as if On and Hiroko went for a drive along Tulane Avenue, then changed their mind and came back to the middle of town. Which they would have walked around, stopping in several places, perhaps to eat or to be entertained. The Date Painting made on December 28 is accompanied by an interesting newspaper clipping.

dyxqnrtaras7azpmtfbsha_thumb_d970 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Maybe it's just the first line in the cartoon strip that caught On Kawara's attention: "Come on baby, I wasn't born Tuesday." In the strip, a man is suggesting that the print he'd been given was not enough, he needs the source of the print, which is a film. She (in the middle frame) is about to say something when a second man, her companion, cuts in, and says that after the print was made she put the film in the mail. Perhaps this was what got the Kawaras playing with the idea of taking photos. Because several are taken on this trip, as you'll see in the next chapter.





STOP 4: HOUSTON, TEXAS

December 29, 1974. Arrive by car.
December 30, 1974. Date Paint
December 31, 1974. Explore
January 1, 1975. Date Paint.
January 2, 1975. Rest?
January 3, 1975 Leave by car.

The postcard below is from On Kawara: horizontality/verticality. However, the wrong picture has again been put beside the correct message.


nu3u2kltt8kl8gdvkqwryg_thumb_d986 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.



Let us find 2100 Memorial Drive, which is the hotel room in which Hiroko, as you'll see at the start of the next chapter, took On's photo.


w8ezulj4tsaokme7g00254yjq_thumb_d993 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.



Memorial Drive is in the top section of the map. Enlarging the top part of the 'I WENT' for December 31, we see that On Kawara's route takes in the hotel, on the left edge of the red route, but there is no customary red dot. I'm assuming this is a mistake on the artist's part, though it's possible that he stayed up all night. Staying up all night the night before New Year's eve? That doesn't seem likely.

It's Ann Wheeler in On Kawara: SILENCE, who tells us that the red dot on an I WENT indicates where On Kawara woke up in any 24-hour period, and where he was when he stamped his getting up time on a postcard.

I'm just wondering if, alternatively, the red dot might indicate where the artist went to sleep. Because it would make sense that On didn't go to sleep on December 31, because at midnight he might have been still up bringing in the New Year. But surely that doesn't make sense as there would be many other days where On was still awake at midnight, and many 'I WENT' Maps without red dots. Whereas I'm not aware of any.

No, it makes sense that the red dot is where On Kawara woke up in the 24-hour period. And there is none for December 31, 1974.


v5eoxaxyslg9xey2aefx3g_thumb_d9a2 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.


But let's continue with our analysis of December 31, because something worth following up did happen that day. The bottom half of the day's red route shows that he visited a few places in one neighbourhood.


uudx6atorjefpu03pcof0025q_thumb_d99e Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.



This Google Map confirms that On went into The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the triangular space just above the oval fountain, and alongside the word 'BAYARD' in the above map. The permanent collection amounted to 12,000 items in 1970, so there would have been plenty to see. But it had been in 1974 that Audrey Jones Beck had donated her collection of 50 Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings to the museum. So perhaps On and Hiroko took the opportunity to gaze on a Japanese-influenced Van Gogh masterpiece, The Rocks from 1888

The Kawaras also visited the nearby Cusack Gallery. It had opened in 1973 and had shown work by On's friend and colleague, Sol Le Witt. By the end of January, 1975, Barbara Cusack, the director, was receiving one of On Kawara's daily postcards (along with John Baldessari still). And of course they met on December 31.

Barbara Cusack introduces herself online by saying that in the early '70s she began a gallery in Houston called the Cusack Gallery. No one in Texas was showing the well-known minimalist/conceptualists of the time. She wanted to give them a platform. A friend asked "If you could have anyone open your gallery, who would it be?" Barbara said "Sol LeWitt." So she got his number, phoned him up and, to her surprise, he picked up. She asked him if he would come to Houston and make a show for the new gallery. He said: "I don't see why not." After that came Carl Andre, Daniel Buren, On Kawara and many others. 'Those artists were being shown in Europe and New York and L.A. but not Texas.'

She is now called Barbara Hill and runs a company that creates minimal interiors for houses in Texas. I have emailed her, and she has replied: 'hello duncan - of course i remember the visit by the kawaras very well - i showed the one million year book at my gallery - cusack gallery - on was fascinated that i had a show (one of the few places in the us where it was shown) - i had to make arrangements to show it thru his agent as he did not receive calls or inquiries - BUT then i answered the phone and the voice said ‘this is on kawara - i had to come see where my one million year book is being shown' - i was disappointed when the on kawara book was published a couple of years ago that there was no mention of my gallery and his show…'

That last is a reference to On Kawara: SILENCE. According to On Kawara's full CV available from David Zwirner's website, the Cusack Gallery showed the Million Years book in 1974. So On must have been looking at the space in retrospect. Back to Barbara Hill's account:

'…i asked him where they were staying and he said "the holiday inn where we always stay because they all look alike so it is familiar to us" - they visited the gallery (where i also lived with four children) but we did not attend a party - most houstonians had never heard of him which was true of most of the incredible artists that i showed in the early 70s - thank you for your interest - kindly barbara'

The trip to the Cusack Gallery was on the last day of the year. Rather an exciting time to be moving from one year to another, from one chapter to another. But that's what happens when you embark on a road-trip with On Kawara. You embrace the day. You hold on for dear life. You go with the flow…

Next chapter.