JULY 4, 1973 "Wednesday"

  • 1973
  • On Kawara
  • acrylic on canvas
  • 26 x 33,1 x 4,4 cm
  • Location not on view.
  • Acquired in 1975
  • Inventory number 702

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In ' JULY 4, 1973 "Wednesday" ' the Japanese artist On Kawara painted white numbers and letters onto a dark grey monochrome background. The paint was applied carefully, layer on layer, and the numbers and letters are all exactly the same size. In relation to the height and width of the canvas, the signs were painted exactly in the centre. He opted for a sans serif font.

This painting is one of the Today series which Kawara worked on from 4 January 1966. He called each individual painting a Date painting. The paintings show the date that they were created and were also a sort of summary of what On Kawara was doing on that day: a painting of that date. A “Date painting” had to be completed in one day and if this was not successful the work was destroyed. There were days that the artist did not make a painting and other days when he made several, and his annual production varied from 30 to 241 paintings. In his journal Kawara carefully noted all the data of his paintings: the number in the series, the date, dimensions, colour and subtitle, and he made these notes in the language of the country where he was staying at the time. The date on the painting is also shown in the way that is usual in the country concerned.

According to the journal ' JULY 4, 1973 "Wednesday" ' was made in Halifax, Canada. There are eight different possible sizes of Date paintings. Like the letter type, the background colour can vary, from almost black to light grey, although it is sometimes an azure blue and just once, bright red. Each painting was accompanied by a handmade cardboard box containing a local newspaper of the day concerned. In his journal, On Kawara also described almost every activity, movement or meeting which took place during his work. By recording this information he wanted to make the passage of time real and give it structure. As he recorded, noted, archived and documented all his activities very consistently, On Kawara is seen as a conceptual artist.

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