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Biography of On Kawara
The Japanese painter and engraver On Kawara was born in Kariya, Japan in 1932. He will be famous thanks to his series of dates painted (Today series) day after day since the very beginning of 1966.
After the end of his high school studies, in 1951, he moved to Tokyo. In 1959, Kawara moved to Mexico where his father was the director of an engineering company. He stayed there for three years, during which time he painted and explored the country. From 1962 to 1964, he moved back and forth between New York and Paris. He also travelled through Europe before settling in 1965 in New York, where he was an intermittent resident until his death. Each year, between 63 and 241 paintings will be made and each painting is recorded in a diary and noted on the "One Hundred Years Calendar".
"One Million Years" is one of the artist's best-known works on the passage and mark of time. It lists, year by year, the one million years that preceded the conception of the work and the one million years that followed. It is sometimes read during performances.
Other series will come: "I read", begun in 1966, then "I met", "I went", "I got up", a series for which On Kawara sends two postcards showing where it is, all started in 1968. In his "One Hundred Years Calendar", Kawara systematically marks each day of his life with a yellow dot on calendars from the date of his birth.
On Kawara belonged to a largely international generation of conceptual artists who began to emerge in the mid-1960s, stripping art of personal emotion, reducing it to almost pure information or idea and minimizing the object. Along with others (Lawrence Weiner, Joseph Kosuth, Hanne Darboven, etc.), Kawara gave particular importance to language.
Kawara's early exhibitions include the Nippon Exhibition at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1953, and two exhibitions at the Takemiya and Hibiya galleries in 1954. His work was shown at the Dwan Gallery in New York in 1967, and his solo exhibition "One Million Years" in Düsseldorf, Paris and Milan in 1971. On Kawara participated in major group exhibitions (Documenta in Kassel in 1972, 1982 and 2002, Tokyo Biennale in 1970, Kyoto and Venice Biennales in 1976, etc.). On Kawara's work has been included in numerous conceptual art exhibitions (New York, Los Angeles, etc). Over time, numerous solo exhibitions will show his work (Los Angeles, Paris, Stockholm, Rotterdam, New York, Dallas, etc).
On Kawara's first comprehensive retrospective, "On Kawara - Silence," will be held at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2015.
On Kawara died in New York in 2014.