In an artistic practice combining paintings, telegrams, and postcards, Kawara aims to make viewers aware of their place in history and to give the passage of time a kind of materiality. Kawara is best known for his ongoing Today series of date paintings, begun in 1966. Each painting is made in a single day and contains only the hand-lettered date of its making.
Kawara's interest in how our society uses dates to grasp time's elusiveness can be seen in the two–volume book project One Million Years. The first book, Past, is dedicated to "all those who have lived and died," and covers the years from 998,031 BC to 1969 AD. The second book, Future, is dedicated to "the last one," and begins with the year 1993 AD and ends with the year 1,001,992 AD. At the request of the artist, portions of the books have been read aloud in locations around the world. A recording of these readings is part of Kawara's installation here.
Gallery label from Book/Shelf, March 26–July 7, 2008.