Lot 2
  • 2

On Kawara

100,000 - 150,000 GBP
157,250 GBP
bidding is closed


  • On Kawara
  • 8 Jan. 1973
  • titled and dated 8 Jan. 1973; signed on the reverse
  • liquitex on canvas with newspaper clippings in artist's cardboard box


Konrad Fischer Galerie, Düsseldorf
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 1975

Catalogue Note

On Kawara's immaculate 8 Jan. 1973 belongs to the artist's most iconic and celebrated body of work: the Today series.  Named for the precise date on which each canvas was painted, collectively these date paintings constitute Kawara's greatest achievement and represent a tremendous breakthrough in the realm of Conceptual art.

As part of an ongoing project which Kawara has undertaken since January 4, 1966 which has grown to span five decades of his career, these meticulously painted monochrome fields, and the numbers and letters contained within them, are declarations of existence that attest to Kawara's obsessions with repetition and the daily consumption of the finite time allotted to each of us in life.  Kawara's philosophically based work addresses this by turning abstract, temporal measurement into the concrete reality of art.  This particular work 8 Jan. 1973 was executed in Stockholm and is the first of seven paintings from 8 January 1973 to 14 January 1973 that Kawara made in the Swedish capital.  

In contrast to the other works that form Kawara's broad conceptual oeuvre, the Today series takes the form of traditional painting.  Completing each canvas within the 24 hours allotted to the day on which it was begun, every Date painting follows the calendrical conventions and language of the place where he was at the time.  Often, as he has done in the present work, he also attaches a page from the newspaper of whichever city he was in – in this case, the front page of Dagens Nyheter– which is stored along with the painting in a cardboard box.  The box confirms the objecthood of the painting in its own right, whilst the newspaper anchors it to an existing daily reality.  The newspaper section accentuates the dichotomy between art and everyday actuality; a gesture which develops the tradition which began with Braque and Picasso's introduction of newsprint into the fabric of papier collé.  Kawara, however, instead of integrating newspaper into the work, deliberately keeps it separate – a further distinction between the different realities of art and non-art.  The newspaper grounds the Today series in the world of continual flux, acting as a temporal gauge of the events and images in ongoing, daily reality.