Studio Sunday: On Kawara

A photo of some date paintings in On Kawara's New York studio


Our Studio Sunday artist this week is On Kawara! Kawara was born in Kariya, Japan, and followed his artistic career to New York in 1965, at the height of the New York conceptual art scene.


Pictured here is Kawara’s 13th street studio in Manhattan, filled with the artist’s famous date paintings. It’s interesting to think about working in such a way, where the subject of the painting is calculated and uniform, with only the scale of the canvas itself as a variable. All these date paintings lined up on the wall lends the studio space a sense of great order and cleanliness. Kawara had a desk to work at in his studio as well, where he sat and painted the smaller of the date paintings pictured here. The large ones, of course, would have required more space, perhaps an easel, or perhaps he would have done them on the floor. The wood floors and brick walls pictured here are a lot cozier than the modern white-walled studios that we see today. I think it must have created interesting mood lighting to have all those warm tones in the room.


Kawara started producing his date paintings on January 4th, 1966, and continued until a few days before his death in 2014. Over the course of these years he produced almost 3000 of the paintings, all following the same basic template and using the same font with white text. The size and colour of the paintings varied, and it’s interesting to think that perhaps the changes reflect in some way on the nature of the day that was painted. 

[image source]

Written by: Dallas Jeffs
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