1997-2007






INTRO

For the second time I'm going to change pace and cover approximately a ten-year period in one essay. The last time I did so it was the 1980s, when On Kawara went from being 47 to 57, post-'I GOT UP', 'I WENT' and 'I MET'. Now it's 1997-2007, when the artist went from age 64 to 74, after a second blossoming of his art career lasting for about seven years . Should I be expressing any of that in days? No, I don't think so.

In 1979, when I first accelerated, it was partly because of a change of information source. As I say, 'I GOT UP, 'I MET' and 'I WENT' were no longer being made. They were no longer being made, at least partly, because On Kawara chose to take his responsibilities as a parent seriously.

In 1997, it's true that On had recently stopped producing 'I READ' and that has been (for me) an important source of information as to where he was Date Painting throughout the year and what he was reading. Maybe On wasn't taking the same interest in the world any more. Though I doubt that. However, the two lists of Date Paintings he made in 2012 for the book 
Date Painting in New York and 136 Other Cities are almost as useful in telling me/us about On Kawara's movements. So I'll be making use of that in the lines of summary facts that head each year.



1997

- January to December: 11, 4, 6, 5, 4, 2, 3, 2, 2, 3, 3, 2. Total 47 Date Paintings.
- Akito 19 in April. Sahe 18 in December.
- Significant periods of Date Painting: First ten days of January.

On Kawara made a total of 47 Date Paintings in the year, but the ten in a row he made from the start of January was the most notable Date Painting event. Oh, and he didn't travel out of New York to make any Date Paintings. There are 47 Dates listed in 'Date Painting in New York' and none in the list 'Date Painting in 136 Cities'. Which is not to say that he didn't travel to Japan or Paris, just that he didn't make any Date Paintings if he did jump on such a plane. Perhaps he had health issues by this stage in life. Jonathan Watkins, who I'm about to introduce, has told me that On Kawara seemed 'not especially robust', though mentally exceptional, from the beginning of their relationship.

I've been able to benefit from a Zoom call with Jonathan Watkins, recently-retired director of the Ikon in Birmingham, who may have known On Kawara as well as anyone outside the family in this ten-year period. Jonathan curated two shows, both of which toured, with all the complications that implies. This meant regularly being in touch with both On and Hiroko. In this ten-year period, he met On at least once a year, staying in the spare room of the New York flat on several occasions. He also visited On a few times in Paris and stayed with him once in a house close to Mount Fuji.

Jonathan Watkins first met On Kawara in November 1997 when he was organising the Sydney Biennale that would open in September 1998. The curator's theme was 'Everyday', and he was drawn to art that aspired to directness, art that resisted gratuitous mediation. The invitation to visit On Kawara in his New York studio came via Lynne Cooke. When Watkins mentioned the name of the show to Kawara, the artist - laughing - said that with such a title he would simply have to be in it. At that first meeting Watkins cited an essay by Anne Rorimer in 
Date Paintings in 89 Cities, which begins with a quote from Tolstoy:

'I have keenly experienced consciousness of myself today, at 81 years, exactly as I was conscious of myself at 5 or 6 years. Consciousness is motionless. And it is only because of its motionlessness that we are able to see the motion of that which we call time. If time passes, it is necessary that there should be something which remains static. And it is consciousness of self which is static.'

The idea of placing Date Paintings in a kindergarten was discussed on the sixth floor of On's Manhattan loft. On's children had their 18th and 19th birthdays in 1997, so they weren't kids anymore. Though it's likely that they had grown up with Date Paintings in their immediate vicinity. Indeed, how could On and Hiroko have resisted hanging up a nourishing, serene, Date Painting or two in the rooms that Akito and Sahe slept in, whether the rooms were in New York or Japan? More to the point, Jonathan had a daughter who was 4 in 1997, and this is what gave him access to a kindergarten in Sydney.

On had painted ten days in a row at the beginning of January, 1997. It was decided that the first seven paintings only would be exhibited, as this would represent the days of the week. Although the paintings were not to be used as didactic teaching aids, nevertheless they would have been ways to reference the numbers one to seven, the month of January, the days of the week, and the idea of a year. 1997? What is a year anyway? What was it that happened 1997 years ago? And the class bursts out laughing at the thought of such an infinite stretch of time.

If the children had been a year or two older, it might have been more appropriate to use all ten of the paintings made on consecutive days of January, 1977, as a counting aid. But a choice had to be made, and the days of the week were prioritised for this age group.



ulutk6l3tva1vr5vpdvnqa_thumb_e36d Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.



On Kawara had created three size 'A' paintings and four size 'B'. January 1, 1997, was a Wednesday. Which means that Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday were 'bigger' days than Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I can see these paintings might have created problems as well as opportunities for the teacher. Hence On Kawara's insistence that they not be explicitly used in lessons. Just let them 
be there in the same space as the children. Children who grow up with Date Paintings for company simply can't go wrong in later life!

Is that all I'm going to say about 1997? A voice snaps back: "Time is of the essence. Get on with it."



1998

- January to December: 2, 2, 3, 3, 2, 3, 9, 7, 2, 2, 2, 2. Total 39 Date Paintings.
- Akito 20 in April. Sahe 19 in December.
- Significant periods of Date Painting: Eight days in a row, mid-July. First four days of August.

Yip, in 1998, the main Date Painting binge was eight days painted from July 12 to July 18. These (all black, all size 'A') were sold at a Christie's auction in New York in 2002 for $260,000. To get that in perspective, an Andy Warhol silkscreen print, 
Big Electric Chair was sold for $4,500,000. But it's the On Kawara lot I'm interested in. Who owned the Dates before the Christie's sale? I don't yet know. How strange that a collector would invest in a run of eight Date Paintings and then get fed up with seeing them after less than five years. Though it probably wasn't like that. Perhaps someone could let me know.


The two lists of Date Paintings, precisely abbreviated, suggest that On Kawara was in New York until SEPT. 7, 1998. Then he flew to Europe. I expect he stayed in Paris, but the first Date Painting he did there was in Germany. And then what? Let's take our time over this. The exact notation on the second (non-New York) 'Date Painting in Other Cities' list is as follows:

23. OKT. 1998… 26 OKT. 1998… 17 NOV. 1998… 19 NOV. 1998… 7 DEC. 1998… 19 DEC. 1998… 21 DEC. 1998

Seems to me that the first October Date was painted in Germany. But if the missing dot after the number 26 is not an error, I'm not sure where he was living while painting the second October Date. No new cities are recorded in 1998, as those would have been brought to my attention by the book 
Date Painting in New York and 136 Other Cities. The November and December Dates were presumably made in France. Probably in Paris, but who knows for sure?

The above paragraph is nonsense. The 'missing' dot after the 26 of October is not an error. 26 OKT. 1988 is the Esperanto rendering of the 26th of October, which says to me that On had flown to Japan. In 1994, On had been in Fuginomijo, and in 1998 he was either there or somewhere else in Japan. I expect he stayed there for the rest of the year, though it has to be said that the NOV. and DEC. dates would be the same whether spent in Japan or France. However, Japan it would seem to have been as On Kawara returned to New York after painting a FEB. day, not a FEV. one, in 1999.



1999

- January to December: 3, 2, 3, 5, 2, 1, 3, 12, 4, 3, 1, 5. Total 44 Date Paintings.
- Akito 21 in April. Sahe 20 in December.
- Significant periods of Date Painting: First eight days of August.

I think it's worth doing a colour-coded blending of the two lists. The black Dates were painted in New York and the red Dates were made in other cities:

7JAN.1999 8JAN.1999 24JAN.1999 6FEB.1999 FEB.27,1999 MAR.7,1999 MAR.17,1999 MAR.21,1999 APR.1,1999 APR.1,1999 APR.13,1999 APR.19,1999 APR.30,1999 MAY13,1999 MAY18,1999 20JUNI1999 4JUIL.1999 JULY24,1999 JULY25,1999 AUG.1,1999 AUG.2,1999 AUG.3,1999 AUG.4,1999 AUG.5,1999 AUG.6,1999 AUG.7,1999 AUG.8,1999 AUG.12,1999 AUG.19,1999 AUG.24,1999 AUG.31,1999. SEPT.1,1999 SEPT.4,1999. SEPT.6,1999 SEPT.11,1999 OCT.10,1999 OCT.11,1999 OCT.16,1999 15 NOV.1999 2 DEC.1999 DEC.7,1999 DEC.8,1999 29DEC.1999 30 DEC.1999

The above tells us that On Kawara was back to International travel. At least four trans-continental flights are suggested just by the colour changes, flying to and from New York. But the different format of dates in December suggests at least another long, return flight there. Let me add the 'other city' information that I have whether from Date Painting in New York and Other Cities, or other sources:

7JAN.1999 
(Manila, Philippines) 8JAN.1999 (Manila, Philippines) 24JAN.1999 6FEB.1999 FEB.27,1999 MAR.7,1999 MAR.17,1999 MAR.21,1999 APR.1,1999 APR.1,1999 APR.13,1999 APR.19,1999 APR.30,1999 MAY13,1999 MAY18,1999 20.JUNI1999 (Zurich, Switzerland) 4JUIL.1999 (probably Paris) JULY24,1999 JULY25,1999 AUG.1,1999 AUG.2,1999 AUG.3,1999 AUG.4,1999 AUG.5,1999 AUG.6,1999 AUG.7,1999 AUG.8,1999 AUG.12,1999 AUG.19,1999 AUG.24,1999 AUG.31,1999. SEPT.1,1999 SEPT.4,1999. SEPT.6,1999 SEPT.11,1999 OCT.10,1999 OCT.11,1999 OCT.16,1999 15 NOV.1999 2 DEC.1999 DEC.7,1999 (New Delhi) DEC.8,1999 (New Delhi) 29DEC.1999 (Fugonimija) 30 DEC.1999 (Fugonimija)

Though I can't be certain, it looks as if On Kawara's year involved being in the Far East (Japan plus trip to Philippines) until flying back to New York in February. Staying there for three months before flying to Europe in June. Flying back to New York before the end of July and indulging in a spurt of Date Painting in August. Remaining in New York until flying to the Far East in mid-November. Taking a flight to Delhi but returning to his Japanese base in Fuginomija for the year end.

The year beginning and ending in Japan but two long periods spent in New York divided by a summer month in Europe. Something like that.

In 1999, a total of 44 Date Paintings were made. And again there was a run of consecutive days from August 1 to 8. What accounts for these periods of seven or more days in a row of Date Painting? I imagine it was something that On Kawara very much liked to do for its own sake, almost like exercising a muscle. He still had enough energy for it. His social and professional commitments didn't swamp his 'everyday' existence. Indeed, by this time it may have been his way of feeling that he was still alive.



Although On Kawara didn't travel to any new cities in 1997 or 1998, in 1999 he made Date Paintings in Manila, the Philippines (7 and 8 JAN.1999) and Zurich (20. JUNI 1999). Let's take close look at the format of the date abbreviation.

of4jx6estyahl8zztot6iw_thumb_e370.ktmmisq9qmsnbrcaie69ca_thumb_e371 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Above left: The Philippines is rendered in Esperanto, like Japan. Above right: Switzerland is not a French (JUNI is not JUIN) territory, and the date convention is German.

In the second half of 1999, On went to New Delhi (DEC.8,1999: ex-British colony so the same format as New York or London) and Fuginomija, Japan (30 DEC.1999):

xb7zjwoqtg6srmy9zzq1cw_thumb_e372.1b6gfryctl6k4tqi5a3s9q_thumb_e373 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.


Fuginomija is a city in Japan in the vicinity of Mount Fuji. So it couldn't be that far away from the house that Jonathan Watkins stayed in.

No newspaper was bought on 30 December, 1999, though there were extracts from papers boxed with the other three Date Paintings in new cities from 1999. 'I READ' wasn't being continued but On was still lining his cardboard boxes with a cutting from the same day's newspaper. Not on 30 December, 1999, though. Perhaps On Kawara was having a news-free end of year focussing on the sight of Mount Fuji instead.



2000

- January to December: 3, 3, 4, 3, 7, 3, 4, 2, 3, 3, 6, 3. Total 44 Date Paintings.
- Akito 22 in April. Sahe 21 in December.
- Significant periods of Date Painting: First eight days of August.

8JAN.2000 9JAN.2000 26JAN.2000 12FEB.2000 FEB.26,2000 FEB.27,2000 MAR.4,2000 MAR.5,2000 MAR.12,2000 MAR.30,2000 APR.1,2000 APR.1,2000 APR.16,2000 3MAI,2000 4MAI,2000 10MAI,2000 11MAI,2000 17MAI,2000. 18MAI,2000 31MAI,2000 2JUIN 2000 JUNE 21,2000 JUNE 28,2000. JULY6,2000 JULY12,2000 JULY14,2000 JULY16,2000 AUG.22,2000 AUG.24,2000 SEPT.8,2000 SEPT.18,2000 SEPT.25,2000 OCT.10,2000 OCT.12,2000 OCT.13,2000 10NOV.2000 12NOV.2000 14NOV.2000 16NOV.2000 18NOV.2000 27NOV.2000 12DEC.2000 21DEC.2000 30DEC.2000

The above confirms that On Kawara was travelling again. At least four intercontinental flights. Let's add what I know about where specific Date paintings were made:

8JAN.2000 (Taipei, Taiwan) 9JAN.2000 (Taipei, Taiwan) 26JAN.2000 12FEB.2000 FEB.26,2000 FEB.27,2000 MAR.4,2000 MAR.5,2000 MAR.12,2000 MAR.30,2000 APR.1,2000 APR.1,2000 APR.16,2000 3MAI,2000 4MAI,2000 10MAI,2000 11MAI,2000 17MAI,2000. 18MAI,2000 31MAI,2000 (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) 2JUIN 2000 (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) JUNE 21,2000 JUNE 28,2000. JULY6,2000 JULY12,2000 JULY14,2000 JULY16,2000 AUG.22,2000 AUG.24,2000 SEPT.8,2000 SEPT.18,2000 SEPT.25,2000 OCT.10,2000 OCT.12,2000 OCT.13,2000 10NOV.2000 12NOV.2000 14NOV.2000 16NOV.2000 18NOV.2000 27NOV.2000 12DEC.2000 21DEC.2000 30DEC.2000


In 2000, On Kawara made 44 Date Paintings. He made Dates in new cities. That is, Taipei, in Taiwan (8 and 9 JAN. 2000), and Abidjan in the Ivory Coast (31 MAI, 2000 and 2JUIN,2000).

bhzvbkpertocuyittbtitw_thumb_e36e.9qc57gwxtagu0eq0025scyx1q_thumb_e36f Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Abidjan? Apart from a trip down the west coast of Africa (not quite as far south as Ivory Coast) in 1973, On Kawara had not been in Africa. However, Abidjan was the third venue for Pure Consciousness, the kindergarten project having been hosted by Reykjavic in 1999 after Sydney in 1998. So perhaps On wanted to see how his Date Paintings were being responded to by African kids. Not sure if getting permission to be in the kindergarten would have been easy, but then when you're the artist, surely there are strings you can pull.

Actually, I can say more about this. Jonathan Watkins has read draft of this chapter and tells me that at this time On Kawara was very interested in the work of Frederic Bruly Bouabre of the Ivory Coast. Bouabre's work was all about language and coding: he made a set of 600 pictograms to cover the range of syllables spoken in traditional local language, a language that was not being written down and taught in the French colonial education system.

wqgyezd4qogqlmr3l0025nycg_thumb_df4e Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

A small booklet was produced at each manifestation of 'Pure Consciousness'. Jonathan Watkins was conscious that each show had no audience, except the children, so it was important for some kind of photographic and written record to be kept and made available to the art loving public.

'Pure Consciousness' was on show in the Abidjan school from 5 JUIN to 24 JUIN, 2000. On Kawara definitely Date painted in Abidjan on 30 MAI and 2 JUIN, but the six earlier MAI Dates might be from here as well. They are in French format so I can't discount that he'd flown from New York to Paris before flying to Abidjan. In any case, clearly On Kawara took a particular interest in this leg of the 'PURE CONSCIOUSNESS' tour, no doubt because of the Bouabre connection. He chose a French version of a Kahlil Gibran text for the booklet, which also includes a few photos like the one above.

The only other thing I've noted on the Date Painting front in 2000 was the production of a small red Date Painting every second day for a period of ten days in November. They feature in a photo in the Candida H
öfer book, taken of a private collection in Fullerton, a town in California:

ew002b002buraxs002bs8gj1p80025pfgg_thumb_e377 Candida Höfer, 2005. Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder.

The dates are clear in the book, not so obvious in my scan: 12 NOV, 2000, 14 NOV, 2000, 16 NOV, 2000, 18 NOV, 2000 and 20 NOV, 2000. Where were they painted. Good question. The formatting suggests Japan or France. To see a reproduction of one of them alongside its box, lined with a cutting from a Japanese newspaper or a French one would clear up the mystery.

I imagine that On Kawara did this set of paintings in Japan, made them available through his American dealers, and they were bought that way. I don't imagine a collector walked up to On Kawara and told him he wanted such and such days in such and such colours. No, I don't think that's how it worked at all.

Kasper König had not departed On Kawara's life. In October 2000 he organised a show of 'I WENT' and 'I GOT UP AT' which was on show in Munich from 21 October to 14 January, 2001. On the back of this, On Kawara Horizontality/Verticality was published by Walther König (Kasper's brother) in Cologne. I can't emphasise enough how important this initiative was. I made the most of the sublime book in 2021 when producing a first draft of the years 1969 to 1979.


ckzbwetwqre0qsl8wyhk3q_thumb_d371 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

In a way, this book has been superseded by Tama Art University putting all the 'I GOT UP' and 'I WENT' info online. However, the quality of the reproductions is not anything like as good as in the horizontality/verticality book.

In 2000, perhaps Kasper 
König - or On Kawara - thought that enough time had elapsed since the everyday observation series had been done, so that the projects could productively be reconsidered and re-curated.

Even though On Kawara was entirely concentrating on Date Paintings by this stage, he would surely have been in Munich before this important show closed. I say that, but not a single Date Painting was made in Germany in 2000. How do I know? There are no Dates that start with the day of the month followed by a dot.



2001

- January to December: 3, 3, 5, 4, 4, 4, 12, 5, 5, 2, 4, 3. Total 54 Date Paintings.
- Akito 23 in April. Sahe 22 in December.
- Significant periods of Date Painting: First eight days of August.

6 JAN.2001 18 JAN.2001 21 JAN.2001 FEB.22,2001. FEB.25,2001. FEB.28,2001 MAR.2,2001 MAR.5,2001 MAR.15,2001 MAR.21,2001 MAR.30,2001 APR.10,2001 APR.13,2001 APR.16,2001 APR.18,2001 MAY16,2001 MAY19,2001 26 MAI.2001 30 MAI.2001 3. JUNI,2001 4.JUNI,2001 JUNE12,2001 JUNE29,2001 JULY1,2001 JULY2,2001 JULY3,2001 JULY4,2001 JULY5,2001 JULY6,2001 JULY7,2001 JULY8,2001 JULY17,2001 JULY18,2001 JULY27,2001 JULY31,2001 AUG.7,2001 AUG.11,2001 AUG.14,2001 (?) AUG.19,2001 AUG.31,2001 SEPT.13,2001 SEPT.19,2001 27 SEPT.2001 28 SEPT. 2001 29 SEPT. 2001 6 OKT. 2001 9 OKT. 2001 1 NOV.2001 12 NOV.2001 14 NOV.2001 27 NOV.2001 6 DEC.2001 20 DEC.2001 21 DEC.2001

The above suggests a fair bit of trans-oceanic travel. Late May in Paris, Paris in the spring. An August day out of New York but still in America or Canada? Let me add what I know about the new cities where On made Date Paintings.

6 JAN.2001 18 JAN.2001 21 JAN.2001 FEB.22,2001. FEB.25,2001. FEB.28,2001 MAR.2,2001 MAR.5,2001 MAR.15,2001 MAR.21,2001 MAR.30,2001 APR.10,2001 APR.13,2001 APR.16,2001 APR.18,2001 MAY16,2001 MAY19,2001 26 MAI.2001 30 MAI.2001 3. JUNI,2001 (Stuttgart, Germany) 4.JUNI,2001 (Stuttgart, Germany) JUNE12,2001 (Birmingham, England) JUNE29,2001 JULY1,2001 JULY2,2001 JULY3,2001 JULY4,2001 JULY5,2001 JULY6,2001 JULY7,2001 JULY8,2001 JULY17,2001 JULY18,2001 JULY27,2001 JULY31,2001 AUG.7,2001 AUG.11,2001 AUG.14,2001 (?) AUG.19,2001 AUG.31,2001 SEPT.13,2001 SEPT.19,2001 27 SEPT.2001 28 SEPT. 2001 29 SEPT. 2001 6 OKT. 2001 (Amsterdam, Netherlands) 9 OKT. 2001 (Amsterdam, Netherlands) 1 NOV.2001 12 NOV.2001 14 NOV.2001 27 NOV.2001 6 DEC.2001 20 DEC.2001 21 DEC.2001

Trying to generalise, I would say the following… On was Date Painting in New York for eight days in a row from July 1. New York was still where On Kawara embarked on his most ambitious projects. Perhaps it always had been, apart from certain German initiatives.

A total of 54 Date Paintings included the new cities of Stuttgart, Birmingham and Amsterdam. Stuttgart was not a new city though, On had made Date Paintings there in 1989, at least ten of them, and one was duly reproduced in Date Paintings in 89 Cities. However, no Stuttgart painting from 1989 was reproduced in Date Painting in New York and 136 Other Cities, so that partly explains why a 2001 Date was reproduced there instead.

More dot shenanigans, as you can see:


1002b0ivgddt62bpj2t002bhr7qa_thumb_e374.3fpojm1asxu32u0fddstrw_thumb_e376 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

If both the Dates had been painted in Germany, the one on the right would have had an additional dot after the 6. If both had been painted in the Netherlands, the one on the left would not have had a dot after the 4.

I say again that the dot between the number of the day and the letters of the month is there in a Date Painting made in Germany, but not in a Date Painting made in France or Netherlands or Japan.

On Kawara also painted a Date in Birmingham, and I'm reproducing it at a larger size to underline its relative importance.

jbb6flt2ryuyw0025zgetp2jw_thumb_e375 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.


The article in the box includes the paragraph: '"Not that I'm not proud of being from Birmingham anyway, but now there's such a buzz about it. I think the Dome was the turning point for a lot of people - it was neither one thing nor the other, stuck out at Greenwich. People said 'Why didn't they build it in the Midlands and then we could all have got up there'."'

Jonathan Watkins has told me that On stayed at the Novotel close to the Ikon Gallery. There is every chance that the director of Ikon would have been singing the praises of Birmingham's cultural regeneration, given that the Ikon was a vital part of this, and the choice of newspaper extract probably reflects that fact.

Having agreed to present his work in Birmingham - on condition that Watkins wrote the main essay for the forthcoming Phaidon monograph about him - Kawara was doing what he often did prior to showing his work in a city, spending a few days there. As well as make a Date Painting, he obtained measurements of the Ikon, so that he would be able to produce a scroll that represented the gallery walls with all the proposed Sunday Date Paintings spaced out along it.

Unlike 'Pure Consciousness', which was fundamentally Jonathan Watkins's idea, the show at Ikon was one that On had conceived. Basically, 'Consciousness, Meditation, Watcher on the Hills' consisted of a Sunday Date Painting from each year from 1966 onwards. There would also be a recording of the Million Years books being read aloud and some 'I AM STILL ALIVE' telegrams. But no 'I GOT UP AT' postcards and no 'I WENT' maps. Possibly this was because so much of this work had been extensively covered by the show that Kasper K
önig had organised for Munich. Not that this was of much relevance to residents of the West Midlands. But it may have been in On Kawara's mind when he conceived the new show.

I've written in depth about this show in the 
essay covering 2002, in section two of this website, so I'll try not to repeat myself here. After leaving Birmingham, On painted for eight days in a row again, from July 1, 2001, but I'm not sure where he was based by then. Jonathan Watkins doesn't know either, though he suspects that On returned to New York after being in Birmingham. Which is consistent with the Date Painting record.



2002

- January to December: 2, 3, 3, 6, 3, 2, 5, 7, 4, 3, 2, 2. Total 42 Date Paintings.
- Akito 24 in April. Sahe 23 in December.
- Significant periods of Date Painting: None.

8 JAN.2002 JAN.31, 2002 FEB.3,2002 FEB.24,2002 FEB.27,2002 MAR.1,2002 MAR.10,2002 MAR.31,2002 APR.4,2002 APR.7,2002 APR.10,2002 APR.19,2002 APR.23,2002 APR.29,2002 24 MAJ.2002 26MAJ.2002 30MAJ.2002 (not France or Germany. Could be Danish?) JUNE1,2002 JUNE30,2002 JULY6,2002 JULY9,2002. JULY17,2002 JULY23,2002 (Margaree, Canada) JULY31,2002 AUG.4,2002 AUG.13,2002 AUG.14,2002 AUG.19,2002 AUG.25,2002 AUG.26,2002. AUG.30,2002 SEPT.5,2002 SEPT.17,2002 SEPT.25,2002 SEPT.29,2002 OCT.16,2002 OCT.23,2002 OCT.286,2002. NOV.1,2002 19NOV.2002 6DEC.2002 17DEC.2002

I interpret the above list of data as follows. On Kawara began the year in Japan, but before the end of the month he had returned to New York. By the end of May he was in Europe. (Was he? I can't be sure about that 'MAJ'.) It looks like he returned to New York for June, and in July travelled by car to Canada, certainly Margaree. He then spent autumn in New York before flying to France/Japan to end the year

In 2002, On Kawara made 42 Date Paintings. No new cities, but the painting below was made in 'Margaree Centre' which suggests to me that he was still salmon fishing in Nova Scotia on occasion. Margaree Centre is, of course, barely a village.

mqsbfbdytw2yefrsa5a8zq_thumb_e37d Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.





2003

- January to December: 2, 3, 2, 2, 9, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 2, 2. Total 36 Date Paintings.
- Akito 25 in April. Sahe 24 in December.
- Significant periods of Date Painting: First eight days in May.


14JAN.2003. 18 JAN.2003 3 FEB.2003 FEB.18,2003 FEB.27,2003 MAR.9,2003 MAR.21,2003 APR.1,2003 APR.28,2003 MAY 1,2003 MAY 2,2003 MAY 3,2003 MAY 4,2003 MAY 5,2003 MAY 6,2003 MAY 7,2003 MAY 8,2003 MAY 28,2003 JUNE 13,2003 JUNE 25,2003 JULY 5,2003 JULY 18,2003 JULY 21,2003 AUG. 13,2003 AUG.19,2003 AUG.22,2003 AUG.28,2003 SEPT.9,2003 SEPT.14,2003 SEPT.17,2003 OCT.9,2003 OCT.22,2003 21 NOV.2003. 27 NOV.2003 18 DEC.2003 25 DEC.2003

On Kawara was in Japan at the start and (I suspect) at the end of the year, but mostly he was holed up in New York.

On painted 36 Dates in the year. Basically this was just two or three per month, plus a string of eight consecutive days in May. As usual when On did this kind of exercise, it was the first eight days in the month. Is that right? Let's see:

1997: First ten days of January.
1998: Eight days, July 12 - July 18.
1999: First eight days in August.
2000: Five days, every second day in mid-November.
2001: First eight days in July.
2002: Not applicable.
2003: First eight days of May.

Interesting that the significantly recurring pattern is the first eight days in a month, not seven days. The seven-day week, having been emphasised in 'Pure Consciousness', lost out subsequently to the eight-day… what?

The 'Pure Consciousness' show was still touring post-Abidjan, having been to Shanghai (2000), Leticia, Columbia (2001), Istanbul (2001), Avignon, France (2002), Lund, Sweden (2002),, and in 2003 it went to Tolkiara, Madagascar (2003). The show was up for the first nine days of July. On Kawara did not go and see it in Madagascar, but his children did. And it was Sahe Kawahara that wrote the text for the usual little publication that went with the show.

In the nicest possible way, On Kawara had set up his son and daughter to be glimpsed against the same seven Dates that the nursery schoolchildren are glimpsed against. Sahe's essay tells of the fairly routine journey to the school, how the local organiser had hung the paintings the day before they arrived on July 1. How this local man, his six-year-old son, Sahe and Akito enjoyed engaging with the children. The kids were so happy and energetic but they completely ignored the Date Paintings. Sahe hoped the canvases would somehow engrave themselves in the children's minds. And that was it as far as 'Pure Consciousness' was concerned.

auzmn1nptgq7iarrcnf2za_thumb_1057a Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder, André Magnin.


After that, Sahe and Akito did a bit of travelling (globe-trotting Sahe explaining how the roads were even worse than those in Cambodia), saw as much of the Madagascan wildlife (pink flamingoes and even more glamorous lemurs) as they could, and talked to the locals that they were introduced to. One Madagascan artist expected them to know everybody he had heard of in New York, never having travelled off the island and having no conception of how many people lived in New York. The Kawaharas ate exotic meat and fish and were hungry for everything that the unique island had to offer. On their last day, Akito was prevented from taking a bowl made from fossils out of the country, but did manage to have 200 samples of insects and scorpions, as well as baobab cuttings, taken into the hold of the plane. Flora and fauna that would be useful to the research that he was no doubt now doing at his university as a PhD student or lecturer.

I wonder what On Kawara thought when he read this essay written by his daughter. I expect he was suffused with pride. Pride in the amount of human kindness, cultural curiosity and independence of spirit on display. Pure consciousness, indeed.

mo002bg4b0025iricsj3kusu002bsyg_thumb_1057d Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder, André Magnin.


'Consciousness, Meditation, Watcher on the Hills' was on show in Birmingham from 20 November 2002 to 26 January 2003. The plan was for it to move on just to the Consortium in Dijon, France, which had been an important institution for the artist, hosting the Kawara and Giacometti exhibition and Dijon being the home of Presses Du Réel, the company that published Whole and Parts. So the show was up there from Feb 21 to 12 April, 2003, and On saw that leg with Jonathan Watkins. Though that was a trip to Europe that is not evident from the list of Date Paintings. In other words, On must have flown to Paris, visited the show consisting of 38 Dates, one from each year from 1966 to 2002, hung clockwise round the gallery in Dijon, and flown home to New York. All without producing a Date Painting.

A curator that Jonathan Watkins knew from the Centre of Contemporary Art in Geneva got in touch with him, asking if the show might travel there, and after that another European gallery expressed interest. So Watkins spoke to Kawara about the very realistic prospect of the show touring much more extensively. On agreed to this on the one condition that it had to tour the world in a clockwise direction. This was not an arbitrary suggestion, but fitted in with the progress of Sunday dates clockwise through each gallery. So in 2003, the 'Consciousness/Meditation/Watcher' on the Hills show went from Birmingham to Dijon to Geneva in quick succession, then to Kleve in Germany in October, for which On Kawara had painted a 2003 Sunday Date Painting, being 
SEPT.14, 2003. The show remained on display in Kleve through to the year-end.

zz5cnjdosl002b002bhjwr3v2iia_thumb_10580





2004

- January to December: 2, 2, 2, 4, 2, 5, 8, 2, 4, 5, 2, 4 . Total 42 Date Paintings.
- Akito 26 in April. Sahe 25 in December.
- Significant periods of Date Painting: None.

10JAN.2004 17JAN.2004 6 FEB.2004 16FEB.2004 MAR.8,2004 MAR.21,2004 APR.16,2004 APR.19,2004 APR.21,2004 APR.27,2004 MAY 9,2004 26MAI,2004 JUNE10,1994 JUNE14,1994 JUNE16,1994 JUNE17,1994 JUNE30,1994 JULY3,2004 JULY5,2004 JULY7,2004 JULY9,2004 JULY11,2004 JULY14,2004 JULY16,2004 JULY27,2004 AUG.22,2004 AUG.25,2004 SEPT.1,2004 SEPT.4,2004 SEPT.16,2004 (Fort Worth, USA) 29SEPT.2004 2OCT.2004 (Lourdes, France) 3OCT.2004 (Lourdes, France) 16OCT.2004 (Bastia, Corsica) 17OCT.2004 (Bastia, Corsica) 22OCT.2004 (Limoges, France) 8NOV.2004 18NOV.2004 7DEC.2004 10DEC.2004 (Bangkok, Thailand) DEC.14,2004 (Calcutta, India) DEC.16.2004 (Calcutta, India)


When visiting a new city, On Kawara liked to make two Date Paintings (Lourdes, Bastia, Calcutta). This wasn't always possible (Fort Worth, Limoges) but it's still worth pointing out as a pattern

The 'Pure Consciousness' show was still touring post-Madagascar, most recently to Bad Blankenburg, Germany. Now, in 2004, it would show up at a kindergarten in London and then Timphu, Bhutan. I don't think On Kawara was visiting these places, and nor does Jonathan Watkins, but it's possible that he was dropping in occasionally at some of them. Either before, during or after the show.

In 2004, the Consciousness/Meditation/Watcher on the Hills show closed in Kleve, Germany, on Jan 11. It opened on March 6 in Braunschweig, again Germany, and was there until April 25. Then a bit of a gap before opening in Bangkok (still moving clockwise round the world) from 22 September to 17 October.

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By this time, On Kawara had painted this Date (see below) while staying in Fort Worth, Texas:

szvaa0025lysfijkq7cxgtrkg_thumb_e37e Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.


For the Bangkok leg of the tour, On had added a Sunday from 2004 to the show. Jonathan Watkins has told me an anecdote about that. The curator had stopped off in Cologne (where Kasper Konig now lived) and had met On in the foyer of a hotel where On handed over the new Date which Jonathan put straight into his computer bag.

On the plane, working on the talk he was going to give at the Bangkok opening, the curator thought he would do something vaguely performative for the audience, since he would have the painting with him. He was going through his diary for the day in question, intending to say what he had been doing while On had been painting the Date, when he realised that there was something wrong. On the chosen day, he had a meeting at the BBC, which was certainly not something that would have happened on a Sunday. Sure enough, On had given him a Date Painting that was painted on a weekday.

When the plane stopped off en route, Jonathan took the opportunity to phone Hiroko and On and report the error. There was no question that the Date Painting had to be returned and a new one provided. The replacement was: 
MAY 9, 2004. Later, Jonathan told me, On found the story very funny.

I find it useful in that it gives us more information about On's movements. The Date 
26 MAI, 2004 suggests On was in Europe at the end of May. That Date may have been painted in Paris. But if On Kawara visited Cologne, where the Konig family were living by this time, he didn't Date Paint when he was there. The Date Paintings tell a story of On's travels around the world. But not the full story.

On painted this next Date in Lourdes, perhaps having gone there to calm himself down from his Sunday painter mistake:


wxx4ikzrsi002b9ghgty3o1pq_thumb_e37f Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

He then painted two more Date Paintings in new places, both French territories. First, Bastia on the Isle of Corsica, then Limoges in the middle fo France.

giu0025ggz3rv6vupwquifkyw_thumb_e380.sulwhvj0ttw1ytkgxmyrfq_thumb_e381 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Previously at this time of year, On would have been in New York. But clearly he had decided to do bit of low-key European travelling. After all, he'd had the option of basing himself in his Paris flat for several years by this time.


From Bangkok the 'Consciousness/Meditation' show moved to Singapore, where the exhibition was open from 11 November to 19 December. It might seem odd for On to choose to visit Bangkok at this time, below left, with his show finished. But something about the show's reception in the city may have aroused his interest.


uudtn9ylrxgssgmi3wjmlq_thumb_e382.5revqqo3rcyv4vrk3txlta_thumb_e383 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.



The last 'new city' of the year was Calcutta, above right. It's possible that, in addition, On visited Singapore, not for the opening of 'Consciousness/Meditation/Watcher on the Hills', but to catch up with the substance of the show. But as he'd Date Painted in Singapore before, in 1991, any Date Painting he made this time around would not be reproduced in 
Date Painting in New York and 136 Other Cities.



2005


- January to December: 3, 2, 3, 4, 6, 3, 4, 7, 5, 4, 4, 4. Total 49 Date Paintings. - Akito 27 in April. Sahe 26 in December. - Significant periods of Date Painting: First three days in both August and September.

2JAN.2005 6JAN.2005. 25JAN.2005 8FEB.2005 14FEB.2005 MAR.14,2005 MAR.19,2005 MAR.30,2005 APR.1,2005 APR.6,2005 APR.18,2005 APR.25,2005 9MAI,2005 (Auray, France) 11MAI,2005 22MAI,2005 (Porto, Portugal) 23 MAI,2005 (Porto, Portugal) 25 MAI,2005 (Lisbon) 29 MAI,2005 (Paris?) JUNE 9,2005 JUNE 14,2005 JUNE 17,2005 JULY9,2005 JULY13,2005 JULY24,2005 JULY28,2005 AUG.1,2005 AUG.2,2005 AUG.3,2005 AUG.8,2005 AUG.13,2005 AUG.21,2005 AUG.25,2005 SEPT.1,2005 SEPT.2,2005 SEPT.3,2005 SEPT.18,2005 SEPT.27,2005 OCT.6,2005 OCT.14,2005 OCT.22,2005 OCT.26,2005 NOV.1,2005 NOV.3,2005 NOV.3,2005 NOV.6,2005 3 DEC.2005 7 DEC.2005 17 DEC.2005 25 DEC.2005

On began 2005 in Japan. Then went to New York for March and April. Back to France and Southern Europe for May. Summer in New York, autumn too. Then off to Tokyo, for December. Seasons spent in different continents: America, Europe and the Far East. The artist aged 72.

In 2005, On made 49 Date Paintings, up from 42 in 2004. Again he seems to have travelled a bit in Europe, this time in May, making Dates in three places on the west coast of Europe. First Auray, a town of 10,000 people in Brittany. Then Porto and Lisbon in Portugal, cities sure enough.


eno0025sblrraepvapwp3xczg_thumb_e384.jmac1mfrsjqstwapzoccxa_thumb_e385.mdthmqmwtaazybhst0kpma_thumb_e386 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.



Three days after making the Date in Lisbon, on May 28, 2005, the painting was photographed (see below) by Candida H
öfer in Paris. So I presume this is an image of On Kawara's Parisian flat. In other words this is a concealed piece of biography, almost a portrait:

fq0hfpgcqzwdcaqh3mcb4w_thumb_e396 Candida Höfer, 2005. Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder.

What do you see in the above picture? A plain fireplace, an unwatched TV, a white woven rug… and On Kawara, an increasingly frail, 72-year-old man looking at his latest Date Painting. He would make a Date Painting the next day, presumably in Paris, 29 MAY, 2005. There was no stopping him.

On Kawara made three Dates in a row from August 1, and three in a row from September 1. A variation on the pattern set up since 1997. All six crop up in Candida Höfer's book, in the Vanmoerkerke collection, in Ostend, Belgium. The photo was taken in 2007 and was one of the last to be taken for the book. Certainly there are no later Date Paintings photographed amongst its pages.

x8lma0025dnrgoilppo0025dgzxw_thumb_e395 Candida Höfer, 2007. Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder.

All the pictures are the same size and colour. I guess On Kawara was bearing in mind the three August dates when painting the three September ones. He would never paint as many as three consecutive days again. Did I say he was unstoppable? He was stoppable all right, just as we all are. Time stopped On Kawara. But first it slowed him right down.

Meanwhile 'Consciousness/Meditation/Watcher on the Hills' was still making its way clockwise around the world. It was in the Museum of Art, Toyota, in January and February, 2005, along with a new Date, 
2 JAN. 2005.

e6uzsgdpr3cbstprwej002blq_thumb_10581

The translation function in my phone tells me that On Kawara was referred to as both Mr Kawahara from Kariya and by the first name of Atsushi. I doubt if any of that was too On's liking. And I've been told by Jonathan that On did not like the Dates being placed on the ground like memorial plaques.


Then to New Plymouth in Australia from 12 March to 8 May. Then it opened in New Mexico on July 7. Jonathan Watkins gave a talk at each of these openings.

ypzcg15bq9gno002bdztn674g_thumb_10582


On Kawara kept track from a safe distance. He sent a telegram to Jean Pfaff, on 8th of June, 2005. Jean Pfaff was the French artist who had seen some 'I GOT UP AT' postcards sent by On Kawara from Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1973, and had been greatly impressed. In 1977 while himself working at the art college in Halifax, Jean Pfaff tracked down postcards of the same ten locations and sent these to On Kawara in New York. Which in turn prompted On to send Jean his own 'I GOT UP AT' postcards in 1978. The 2005 telegram from On said 'Save the date. 07 JUL 05. La collection JUMEX'. That was On Kawara telling Jean that his show was opening in Mexico at that time. Apparently, the telegram came from Santa Clara, so On Kawara was in Mexico in 2005, a month before his show opened there. Perhaps he took the opportunity to brief the local curators. He had not been happy with the Toyota curation at the start of the year, where the Dates had been placed on the floor, like gravestones.

But On Kawara being in Mexico in May or June, 2005, was another trip that was not recorded with a Date Painting. I say again, the Date Paintings tell a story of On's travels around the world. But not the full story.

In 2005, the 'Pure Consciousness' show was at Bequia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, in the Caribbean. Hiroko Kawahara is thanked in connection with it. As she is in several of the 
Pure Consciousness booklets.



2006

- January to December: 3, 5, 2, 4, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 2, 2, 6. Total 38 Date Paintings.
- Akito 28 in April. Sahe 27 in December.
- Significant periods of Date Painting: None.

2JAN.2006 11JAN.2006 25JAN.2006 5FEB.2006 (Shizuoka, Japan) 10FEB.2006 (Shimantogawa, Japan) 14FEB.2006 19FEB.2006 22FEB.2006 (Sendai, Japan) MAR.24,2006 MAR.28,2006 APR.6,2006 APR.11,2006 APR.21,2006 APR.27,2006. MAY16,2006 MAY,19,2006 5JUIN,2006 13JUIN,2006 (Monte Carlo, France) 22JUIN,2006 (Vagnes, France) 9JUIL.2006 18JUIL.2006 21.JULI.2006 (Munster, Germany) 27JUIL.2006 3AOUT 2006 (Vaucluse, France) 4AOUT 2006 (Vaucluse, France) 20AOUT 2006 SEPT.11,2006 SEPT.27,2006 OCT.8,2006 OCT.25,2006 NOV.3,2006 NOV.8,2006 DEC.7,2006 DEC.7,2006 DEC.8,2006 DEC.12,2006 DEC.24,2006 DEC.25,2006

In 2006, On spent little longer in Japan at the start of the year, exploring various cities. He pushed his New York stay back by a month, delaying his arrival in Paris until June. Summer in Europe, including watching the World Cup (see later). Back to New York for the rest of the year. Aged 73.
Toronto was the 11th and penultimate venue for the Consciousness/Meditation show, closing March 5. Here is an installation shot:

wf25zh002bestamjp1czfzliq_thumb_1058c

In February of 2006 the seven Date Paintings from 1997 were on the wall of a kindergarten in Toronto (overlapping with the Consciousness/Meditation show) and then at Shimantogawa, Japan, in June. Both Hiroko and her daughter, Sahe, are thanked at the end of the accompanying booklet, for which Sahe took photographs this time. Possibly these most evocative ones:

xbjarawrshgdkq6llduztw_thumb_10577.1uzx722otig7k0025zfqqbs1w_thumb_10579 Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder, Sahe Kawahara and/or Tsuyoshi Anzai .

It was in this last mentioned, Japanese town that On Kawara made the Date Painting, below left, so obviously he was still bearing in mind where his work was in the world and making occasional trips in connection with it.

abq57002bzvsggjefcatuwlzq_thumb_e387.jpz81wktszy4rcwrsgp8xq_thumb_e388-2 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Quite an intellectually exciting life, one has to say. Date Painting at home in New York or Japan or Paris. Or, occasionally, Dating somewhere new. While bearing in mind that a Sunday from each of the last forty-odd years of Date Painting was on show in a major venue, and would be, in due course, moving clockwise to another international venue. While bearing in mind that Date Paintings of the first seven days from 1997 were on the walls of a kindergarten classroom somewhere in the world.

In February of 2006, On Kawara also made a Date Painting in the city of Sendai (above right). That information comes from Date Painting in New York and 136 Other Cities. But another source of information tells us that the Date Painting below was made in February of 2006, also in Japan, this time in the city of Shinuoza:

lpkxetzast002bttwi3z1a8tq_thumb_e3af Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

This is a most significant Date Painting, partly because it was part of the set acquired by Dallas Museum of Art in 2007. The set, consisting of one Date Painting from each of the five decades that On Kawara had been making Dates, is comprised as follows:

MAY 25, 1966
6. AUG.1976
10 JUL. 1986
NOV. 23, 1996
5. FEB. 2006

The actual paintings clearly illustrates how his lettering changed over the period. These would be part of the important show of On Kawara's work shown at Dallas in 2008, so I'll talk about it in the next essay. But for now I must mention that for the first time since the 1966 to 1972 period, a Date Painting was given a sub-title other than the day of the week it was painted on. The subtitle for 5. FEB. 2006 is the Esperanto phrase: ''Regardi la teron kun kosma konscio', which translates as 'To view the earth with cosmic consciousness'. I suspect On Kawara only gave the painting this sub-title when he knew it was going to be part of the Dallas acquisition and show, probably in 2007. But I could be wrong.

There were only 38 Date Paintings made throughout 2006. On only two occasions did he make Dates on consecutive days. In the summer he made another little tour of European cites.


smefyd2vs1uhdvggz0025zwjq_thumb_e389.wywoso2brcastjcaxekgea_thumb_e38a Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

That's Monte Carlo (left) and Vagnes, Pont d'Arc (right) above. Both French territories.

However, On Kawara was in Paris for part of the summer of 2006. Jonathan Watkins has written that he visited On in his Parisian flat when the World Cup was on (June 9 to July 9). They watched some football on On's TV, and, such was the play-acting on display, that On would attempt to place bets with Jonathan on how often paramedics would be required to run onto the field to attend the 'injured' players.

But the summer was not all spent watching TV and fraternising. Date Paintings were made at Munster (left) and Montfavet, Vaucluse (right), below. Illustrating the German and French style of abbreviation, respectively.

cy3tbdk3q6wpmbpxq0025n3da_thumb_e38b.ypmbhzpkrmqojbdwla3qoq_thumb_e38c Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Next is a map showing the European tours taken in 2004 (purple spots), 2005 (green spots) and 2006 (orange spots). The Munster, Germany, trip seems to be an outlier from the 2006 tour of French towns on or near the Mediterranean. The key thing, I suspect, is that most of these places are easily got to by fast train from Paris

55qjgt0002btn2limysehsv0025q_thumb_e37b

At the beginning of 2006, as already mentioned, 'Consciousness/Meditation/Watcher on the Hills' was at the Power Plant, Toronto, until early March. Then at Lima for April and May, by which time 19 FEB,2006, painted in Japan, had been added to the exhibition. Finally, all the Date Paintings were installed exactly where they had been four years earlier at the Ikon, this time from 26 July to 17 September, 2006, with the addition of the four new pictures from 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. Jonathan Watkins reckons it was one of his sharpest ever curatorial initiatives, and so what if the press didn't exactly get it. Did On Kawara see this second presentation of his work at the Ikon, when nothing had changed but everything was different? It may have been one of these times when he made an International trip but it didn't leave a trace.




2007

- January to December: 5, 2, 2, 3, 2, 4, 4, 4, 3, 3, 4, 5. Total 41 Date Paintings.
- Akito 29 in April. Sahe 28 in December. Gosh, before you know it, On and Hiroko's children are adults.
- Significant periods of Date Painting: None.

JAN.1,2007 JAN.2,2007 JAN.18,2007 22ENE.2007 (San Jose, Costa Rica ) 23ENE.2007 (San Jose, Costa Rica ) FEB.8,2007 FEB.17,2007 MAR.8,2007 MAR.12,2007 APR.2,2007 APR.23,2007 APR.29,2007 MAY1,2007 31MAI2007 7JUIN,2007 17JUIN,2007 21JUNI,2007 (Antwerp, Belgium) 22JUNI,2007 (Antwerp, Belgium) 5JUIL,2007 JULY15,2007 (Manchester, UK) JULY17,2007 (Glasgow, UK) JULY19,2007 (Edinburgh, UK) 2AOUT2007 9AGO.2007 (Andorra, Spain) 10AGO.2007 (Andorra, Spain) AUG.27,2007 SEPT.11,2007 SEPT.22,2007 (Salt Lake City, USA) SEPT.23,2007 (Salt Lake City, USA) OCT.12,2007 OCT.23,2007 (Hartford, USA) OCT.24,2007 (Hartford, USA) NOV.9,2007 NOV.11,2007 NOV.14,2007 NOV.21,2007 DEC.7,2007 DEC.10,2007 DEC.19,2007 DEC.25,2007 DEC.25,2007

The year began in New York and continued with a trip to Costa Rica. Then back to New York before flying to Paris in May. A European Summer, including a tour of the UK, north of London and Birmingham, before returning to New York at the end of August. A couple of trips to cities at either end of the United States before the end of the year.


A total of 41 Date Paintings were made. Beginning with the first two days of the year, continuing with January 22 and 23, On Kawara painted consecutive days exactly six times in the year, which is the most distinctive pattern. As for new cities, on 22 January there was a painting made in San Jose, in Costa Rica, which was obviously where the painting was made the next day also. And in summer he made his fourth consecutive annual tour of European cities.

21 and 22 June, Antwerp
July 15, Manchester
July 17, Glasgow
July 19, Edinburgh
9 and 10 Aug, Andorra la Vella

As you can see, there was a UK mini-tour within the five European dates. The UK tour (3 Date Paintings in 5 days) seems to have missed out London and Birmingham (Jonathan does not think On stopped off in Birmingham in summer of 2007). Instead it was the northern English city of Manchester, and the Scottish cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh that On visited. At 74 years old, I doubt if On Kawara was invited by Glasgow School of Art or Edinburgh School of Art, though both organisations would have warmly welcomed him. I suspect he quietly slipped into the country as a private - very private - individual.


pophqmbqraaotnm6gdab2q_thumb_e390.mcbwbh9xso002bnjph6s8duia_thumb_e391 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Both the extracts from Scottish newspapers feature football stories. So On Kawara noticed that he'd stepped into a country/culture that was obsessed with the game.

If On had still been doing his 'I GOT UP', 'I WENT' and 'I MET', I would be able to extract so much biographical context from this time in the UK. Even just 'I READ' would have given vital research information. But, of course, he wasn't doing any of that any more.

I was a 50-year-old living in Blairgowrie in 2007. And On Kawara was 74. You should have dropped by, On. I would have supplied you with a copy of 
The Blairgowrie Advertiser, an 8" by 10" canvas and Liquitex paints. And if you weren't in the mood to paint, we could have watched 'Match of the Day' together. Laughing? Yes, I think so.

Do I mean that On Kawara was 74 most of the year, or 74 on December 24, 2007? I don't think it matters, but it's the former.

The following map summarises On Kawara's new European cities from 2004 to 2007. Many French and German cities, as well as a few Spanish and Italian ones, had been visited in earlier years, so by this time On Kawara was a seasoned European traveller. I would suggest that these trips were all done from Paris. Either by train or plane

wtaka2g3sfimp4vbibsmtq_thumb_e37c


Actually, the seasoned traveller idea might be better served by a map which shows all the places where On Kawara made Date Paintings inside Europe over the decades. That means adding the layers I've already created featuring French and German cities. And bunging on all the other European cities (black circles) that are featured in 
Date Painting in 89 Cities and the 136 Cities book.

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Salient points… The long residencies in Stockholm and Berlin… The fantastic support On Kawara got from various German parties (eg Kasper König, Konrad Fischer, René Block, Rüdiger Schöttle) in the '70s and '80s… Establishing himself in Paris by buying a flat there in the '90s, the centre of his subsequent travels in Europe… Never putting a foot in Eastern Europe, not even after the fall of the Berlin Wall… Never putting a foot in Ireland, not even the Dublin of Beckett and Joyce… Eventually exploring Britain, before it was too late.

Back in the United States, in the fall, On Kawara visited Salt Lake City (Sep 23.) and Hartford (Oct 24). Salt Lake City being in Utah, towards the west of the country, below left. Hartford being a city on the north east coast, below right.


ovg0025qpy1sos1qiokeiiqqa_thumb_e393.d54nx7ads2ivpzssfdeqeg_thumb_e394 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.


The 100-Year-Calendar confirms that both these new cities were where On Kawara made paintings on consecutive days again. So he was still furthering his long-term project, albeit with reduced energy levels. It's almost as if when Date Painting in the first two days of January, 2007, presumably in New York, he decided that whenever he was in a new place that year he would try and paint on consecutive days. And he managed that in San Jose (Jan.), Antwerp (Jun.), Andorra (Aug.), Salt Lake City (Sep.) and Hartford (Oct). Which precisely accounts for the five further times he painted two days in a row in 2007. On Kawara was nothing if not systematic. Though what he achieved in 2007 is a long way from the awesome feat of painting that he achieved in the 1960s and 1970s, for example, at least one Date Painting every day for the first three months of 1970. A long way too from what he was doing with the aid of curators in 1993, for example.

This must be the most tedious essay to read on this entire website. For which only I am to blame, and for which I sincerely apologise, dear reader. I just haven't sufficiently nailed the pattern. 2008 would turn out to be a special year though. One that cries out for an essay to itself. A cry that will be answered with something more aesthetically compelling.

Next chapter

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