Lot 22
  • 22

ON KAWARA | [Two works from the Today Series, 1966-2013]Nov. 21, 1991;Nov. 21, 1991

Estimate
400,000 - 600,000 EUR
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Description

  • On Kawara
  • [Two works from the┬áToday Series, 1966-2013]Nov. 21, 1991;Nov. 21, 1991
  • i. titled and dated 21 Nov. 1991; signed on the reverseii. titled and dated 21 Nov. 1991; signed on the reverse
  • acrylic on canvas with homemade box and newspapers
  • 20,5 x 25,5 cm; 8 1/16 x 10 1/16 in. (each)
  • Executed in 1991.

Provenance

Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1995

Exhibited

Paris, Galerie Yvon Lambert, On Kawara, 11 April - 12 May 1992

Condition

The colours are fairly accurate in the printed catalogue illustration although the overall tonality tends more to dark green. One of the corners of one of the cardboard box presents a very small dent visible under close inspection. A tiny area fluoresces under Ultra Violet Light inspection below the letter O on one of the canvasses. The two works on canvas and the two boxes are in very good condition.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
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Catalogue Note

One of the main protagonists of the conceptual art movement, On Kawara is undoubtedly one of the most radical artists and innovators of his generation. On Kawara spent the beginning of his career creating compositions one could call graphic, figurative and inspired by surrealist aesthetics, but shifted to a biographical work reflecting on time and space in the 1960s. After living Japan for New York in 1959, where he developed a strong interest for the relationship between language and plastic materiality, it took On Kawara a couple of years to lay down the foundations of what made his fame: the Date Paintings.

From the very first painting of this series, started on January 4, 1966 and continued up until his death, On Kawara elaborated a rigorous protocol he obsessively followed for nearly 50 years: a dark monochromatic background in the center of which was written the immaculate white date of the creation of the work in the official language of the country he was in. Each canvas would come in a cardboard box with a newspaper clip stating the date and place of its creation.

Essential to understanding On Kawara's work, the choice of this repetitive and almost ritualized approach and process reflects a unique ambition in the history of art: establishing an objective relationship to the world through personal experience.

The two works presented here, 21.11.1991 and 21.11.1991, were made on the same day. The artist rigorously hand-painted them and applied multiple layers of white and black color on the surface to erase all traces of paintbrushes from the compositions. In this tedious project, the tiny variations in details and the visual impact of the accumulated layers is what parts the works from a mere mechanical, self-destructive and imperceptible countdown. Through this process, On Kawara created a monumental and universal work that unfolds over time but can only be grasped through fragments, such as 21.11.1991 and 21.11.1991.