Japanese-born, New-York-based On Kawara (b.1933) is one of the world's best-known Conceptual artists, a major international figure since the 1960s. Kawara's existence is documented solely through his daily art-making practice. Best known are his Date Paintings (1965-ongoing), in which he methodically creates a single painting a day, with simply the date written on it. This book is a rare chance for his followers to unravel more of the mystery of this cult figure, and for less familiar readers to be introduced to his fascinating life and work. A unique feature of this book is the Tribute section, which reflects the artist's lifelong commitment never to be personally documented in his own words. A collection of short statements by 30 individuals selected personally by Kawara - among them artists Lawrence Weiner and Dan Graham, and cultural theorist Homi Bhabha - create an indirect 'portrait of the artist'. In the Survey, Curator Jonathan examines the artist's long-standing career: from his early figurative painting in the 1950s, to his later, text-based Conceptual art. Curator Rene Denizot analyses in his Focus a two-person exhibition combining Kawara's work with Alberto Giacometti's, revealing both artists' shared concern for the essence of human existence. The artist's interest in the nature of consciousness is reflected in a scientific essay he has selected for his Artist's Choice from the academic Journal of Consciousness Studies. In the Artist's Writings, a series of handwritten love letters in an indecipherable code reflect the mix of the impersonal and the deeply humanistic threads that run through Kawara's art.
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Jonathan Watkins is Director of the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham. Previously Artistic Director of the 11th Sydney Biennial, when based in London he was Curator at the Serpentine Gallery (1995-7) and Director of Chisenhale Gallery (1990-5). Rene Denizot is a critic and philosopher who has written particularly on Conceptual art and contemporary sculpture. He has been a close friend of Kawara and a follower of his work for well over a decade.Review:
'The boldest, best executed, and most far-reaching publishing project devoted to contemporary art. These books will revolutionize the way contemporary art is presented and written about.' (Artforum) 'The combination of intelligent analysis, personal insight, useful facts and plentiful pictures is a superb format; invaluable for specialists but also interesting for casual readers, it makes these books a must for the library of anyone who cares about contemporary art.' (Time Out) 'A unique series of informative monographs on individual artists.' (The Sunday Times) 'Gives the reader the impression of a personal encounter with the artists. Apart from the writing which is lucid and illuminating, it is undoubtedly the wealth of lavish illustrations which makes looking at these books a satisfying entertainment.' (The Art Book)
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