On Kawara Is Not Still Alive

July 10, 2014 | Marina Galperina

Japan-born conceptual artist On Kawara has died at the age of 81, David Zwirner gallery confirms. The New Yorker whose art dealt with time and mortality is celebrated for his “Date paintings” — simple renderings of the date in white liquitex on a solid color canvas, which he planned to create daily until he died, but actually made between 63 and 241 paintings a year. I Am Still Alive, is another well-known work, consisting of telegrams to his gallerist which said, “I am still alive.” Contrary to the fake @On_Kawara Twitter account, he is not “STILL ALIVE #ART.”

The “Date paintings” were stylized to reflect the language and grammatical conventions of whichever country On Kawara was working at the time — “13 JUIN 2006” from Monte Carlo, “26. ÁG. 1995” from Reykjavik, Iceland, etc. The paintings were rarely exhibited in the intentioned format — in custom-made boxes, lined with a clipping from a local newspaper of the city where the painting was made.

On Kawara’s work is currently on view at Dia:Beacon and a retrospective of his work will open at the Guggenheim in February of next year. Will July 10, 2014 be on view? Or maybe, July 9, 2014? 

June 19, 1967, On Kawara

August 3, 2005, On Kawara