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  • Provenance

    Gallery Shimada, Kobe
    Christie's, New York, Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale, May 12, 2010, lot 411
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    May 10, 1989 marks the twenty-third year in On Kawara’s celebrated Date Paintings, in which he has endeavored to paint the day of his painting’s execution upon the surface of a canvas with liquitex. Kawara’s compositional changes over the past five decades he has spent on the series have been few indeed, with only slight early modifications in color (experimenting for a time in red) and, later, a variation on the nature of his typeface. In the present lot, Kawara presents us his activity during the day of May 10, 1989 with his standardized style—neutral and straightforward, yet also highly intense in its forcefulness and associative power.

    In picking a specific date for the execution of a painting, Kawara necessarily gives way to the inevitability of the future, as simply selecting a day is enough to acknowledge the ephemeral power of time. The psychological reflex for the observer is the emotional struggle to comprehend their own existence on May 10, 1989, but also to mentally paint the scene of Kawara’s date, filling in the holes of such a day in their own personal history. Accompanyed by a clipping from The New York Times on the day of its creation, May 10, 1989 asserts its execution in Kawara’s adopted city. The clipping is a proof of existence in some terms, giving irrefutable evidence that Kawara was in the city at the same of the painting’s creation. In the twenty four years since the execution of May 10, 1989, Kawara has continued to create his paintings uninterrupted, a fruitful future from every date in the past. “A readable and visible image does not simply arise from nowhere but grows out of a preceding artistic period to exist at a given moment, and becomes history, setting a date with regard to that particular moment.”(T. Davila, “Setting a Date,” On Kawara: The ‘90s, Geneva, 2004, p. 44)



May 10, 1989

Liquitex on canvas and handmade board box with newspaper clippings from The New York Times

canvas 10 1/4 x 13 1/8 in. (26 x 33.3 cm.)
box 10 3/4 x 13 5/8 x 1 7/8 in. (27.3 x 34.6 x 4.8 cm.)

Signed "On Kawara" on the reverse.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $353,000

Contact Specialist
Zach Miner
Head of Evening Sale
[email protected]
+1 212 940 1256

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York 11 November 2013 7PM