- Date Paintings (The Today Series)
(after On Kawara)
Beginning on January 4, 1966, On Kawara made a series of "date paintings" called the Today series. The paintings show a date in white block letters on a monochrome background (usually dark grey, but sometimes red or blue). Each painting is made on the date depicted, and the date is depicted in the language and format used in the country where the painting is made. Each painting is housed in a handmade storage box containing a newspaper clipping from the day and place where it was painted. Kawara made date paintings in eight sizes, ranging from 8 x 10" to 61 x 89".
On January 17, 2013, I began a similar series following Kawara's model. My paintings are the same size as his, and I paint the date in similar lettering (Kawara's letterforms changed over the years - my paintings are most similar to his later canvasses).
While On Kawara was alive, there was the possibility that we would both make nearly identical paintings on the same date. In theory, whoever finished his painting first would own the copyright on the image (although it is debatable whether the paintings demonstrate enough "originality" to qualify for copyright protection), and the other would have "copied" the painting without ever having seen the "original".
On Kawara passed away in the summer of 2014. I continue to make my "Today" paintings. From February 6 - May 3, 2015 (concurrent with a major exhibition of Kawara's work at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum) I re-enacted all of Kawara's best-known projects. During this period, I made 30 date paintings in four of the eight sizes used by Kawara.