Kawara produced his Date Paintings in over one hundred international cities, effectively transforming this series into a personal travelogue and roaming narration of an ever-changing world. As seen in the present work, On Kawara produced 18 OTT. 1990, 20 OTT. 1990, and 21 OTT. 1990 in his studio in Rome, adopting the Italian abbreviation for October. After On Kawara finished each Date Painting, he created a handmade box in which he would place pages from the local newspaper published that day. Kawara's inclusion of the newspaper functions as an anchor that ties the existential integrity of the date to the temporal reality of the greater world. Contrasted against the stark and impersonal presentation of the date, the content of each newspaper clipping incites an infinite number of personal associations and emotive connections that viewers can ascribe to each of the chosen dates.
Kawara’s process was consistently machine-like. For each Date Painting, he applied exactly four layers of either black, green, blue, or red paint. He then stenciled the date in sans-serif font, filling in the text with bright white paint. Any irregularities or imperfections were dutifully erased in order to achieve a mechanically-executed appearance. If the painting remained unfinished by midnight, it was destroyed rather than altering the pure truth of the date itself. In the present work, the consistency achieved through three paintings of the same size underscores the banner-like physicality of these "specific objects." His practice fell perfectly in line with concurrent artistic advancements that advocated depersonalization of the art object. In harnessing the aesthetic tenets of Minimalism within the theoretical framework of Conceptual art, Kawara successfully achieved one of the most poignant fusions between two major currents of radical art in the postwar era.
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