On Kawara - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Friday, October 16, 2009 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private collection, Switzerland

  • Catalogue Essay

    In January 1966, the Japanese conceptual artist On Kawara began his iconic, critically acclaimed body of work collectively known as the Today Series. All works in the series, like the present lot, an early work from 1978, presents nothing more than an alphanumeric date executed in a stencilled like manner on a monochromatic canvas. This canvas, painted in accordance to the American calendrical conventions and language, during the course of the day on April the 8th of 1978, is accompanied by a newspaper clipping from that day's New York Times, the local newspaper from the city in which On Kawara found himself on April the 8th of 1978. Working with meticulous rigour, On Kawara invents rules for himself, self-imposed limits. There are four or five coats of the same brand of paint on each canvas with the paint going around the edge of the stretcher. The lettering is hand-painted with calculated precision and anonymity, it is always in crisp, white lettering and occupies pretty much the same proportion of each canvas.   
    On Kawara's artistic practice, like that of his fellow Conceptualists Bruce Nauman and Joseph Kosuth, was a radical departure to the predominant 60s visual aesthetic of Pop Art. Based as much on the thought that lays behind the work as in the work itself, On Kawara's on going series which now counts over 2,000 works is one of the most important documents in the history of the Conceptual movement. Speaking about the Today series, the acclaimed New York art critic Jerry Saltz has said 'the works themselves have the presence of tombstones, signs or mementos. Drop-dead simple, repetitive, almost boring, they also put you in touch with ideas about chance, minimalism, the monochrome, seriality, conceptualism and a vaguely Eastern attitude about self-negation.' (J. Saltz, Reeling in the Years, New York Magazine, 9 February, 2009, New York, pp. 52-53) 


APR. 8, 1978

Liquitex on canvas with newspaper clipping in artist's cardboard box.
33 x 44 cm. (13 x 17 1/4 in).
Signed 'On Kawara' on the reverse.
This work belongs to the Today series and is sold with the original handmade cardboard box containing a New York Times newspaper clipping from 8 April, 1978.

£190,000 - 220,000 

Sold for £205,250

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

17 Oct 2009