1968






JANUARY TO MARCH


1968 was a momentous year for On Kawara because he took his Date Painting on the road. From the beginning of April he would be away from New York for a year, spending six months in Mexico and six months travelling through South America. He didn't have enough money to achieve this ambitious plan, so Kasper König gave him 200 dollars ($1500 inflation-adjusted). How important was this financial assistance? Think Theo helping Vincent to travel to Arles and settle himself there in 1887.

But first New York. Eight Date Paintings in January. Six in February. And here is FEB. 7, 1968. What's good about this is that it shows what the '8' looked like in the template set.

caxskwm9thihnfuren002b6nq_thumb_eab6 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

In going from 1966 to 1967 the figure 8 hardly comes up in dates that are reproduced in the Kawara literature. Not at all in 1967. But I do have a few examples from 1966:

puzzcp5yqhighlrs4cagnw_thumb_ea6a.gsn002bnuv7r0025ss002b0025i0025xpn42a_thumb_ea7a Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

These 8s are fundamentally different. The two circles making up the 8 hardly overlap, so there is a double-line where they do, in the middle of the letter. Also, in what I'm taking to be the template version, the circle on top is very nearly as big as the bottom circle.

On Kawara only made two Dates in March of 1968, a month that must have been dominated by making travel arrangements. On Kawara would have needed to post canvases and boxes ahead to the Monte Carlo Hotel in historic Mexico City, where he'd booked a room. Unless he was intent on buying the stuff when he was out there. The subtitle to MAR. 30,1968 is biographically useful, if only up to a point: "I will leave New York for Mexico the day after tomorrow."

Given that On Kawara was abroad for exactly one year - he left New York on April 1, 1968 and he returned on April 1, 1969 - the very real possibility must be borne in mind that he left America for immigration reasons. A full year out of the country may have been necessary for him to renew either his official Visitor or Student status. His friend Tatsuo Kondo, when writing a letter to the editor of a Japanese art mag, quoted On Kawara as saying that he did some of his best work in adversity. For sure, we can be grateful that On Kawara went to Mexico, whatever his reason for the trip.



APRIL

The first Date Painting made in Mexico was dated the 5th of April. Like all subsequent paintings made in Mexico, the subtitle was written in Spanish. On Kawara had already lived in Mexico for two years from 1959, staying with his engineer father, so he would have known the language. But more than that, the daily papers were printed in Spanish, and as his habit was to quote from them, then Spanish really had to be his "Today" language of choice. "La violence y el audio racial envuelven a los Estados Unidos." Which translates as "Racial violence and hatred engulf the United States."

The second Today painting was on the 9th, but after that there were 18 Date Paintings made in April. Each one had a quote from the local paper. Running one's eye down through the subtitles, a non-Spanish speaker picks out words such as Kansas, Berlin, California, Le Union Sovietica, Nigeria, Mexico, los Estados Unidos, Greenwich, XIX Olimpiada, U Thant, Argelia, Las Vegas, Vietnam, el Valle de Mexico, Egipto, George Washington. The subtitle for 30 April doesn't have a noun that stands out. So I have asked Google to translate it: "Today is Tuesday April 30, one hundred and twenty-first day of 1968. There are 245 days until the end of the year." I should have known.

The only April Date I have a reproduction of is this one. Looks like On Kawara had remembered to pack his templates. It's the 6 and the 8 that signal this to me.

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Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.


But let's just check out the 'R' by comparing it with an April Date from 1967.

dgw1pgflti002bjvdkskazi1q_thumb_ea84-2.waysyq7lrmeggymsd5002bbjg_thumb_eab8 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Well, I'm not comparing like with like, as 28 APR.68 is a size 'A' painting, whereas APR.22, 1967 is size 'B'. But it doesn't look to me as if the 68 Date has been done with the templatesl. The 'A' and the 'R' are too wide. Still, I'll have to keep an eye on this as the year progresses.

In addition, On Kawara wanted to thank Kasper König for his generosity in helping him to take the Date Painting out of his comfort zone. Knowing how much Kasper liked postcards, Kawara embarked on a project of sending him a postcard almost every day. The first one suggests that the artist had obtained a typewriter in his new city:

4ohacdthrtafhpfzdanxsg_thumb_d056 Collection of Kasper König. On Kawara Studio. Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders.

Perhaps Kasper König didn't realise he would ultimately get a postcard every day for months on end from his friend. The second one, reproduced in the Guggenheim's Silence catalogue, shows that by then On Kawara had invested in adjustable rubber stamps. Two rubber stamps to begin with. One to stamp large the joke titles (and real address) of Kasper and Barbara. The other superimposing the date.

7tzx0nvqr3w2xczae7ayeg_thumb_d057 Collection of Kasper König. On Kawara Studio. Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders.

What is the extended scribble supposed to suggest? Is it not barbed wire above a prison wall? Is it not making a joke of the tourist feature on the picture side of the card? On the one hand, a tourist is exploring sunny Mexico City. On the other, the artist, hardly venturing beyond the four walls of his hotel room, is knuckling down to his Date Painting. A prison of his own making?

The postcard is full of the complementary thinking that On Kawara told Wolfgang Max Faust was typically Japanese. The message complements the image. Picture side: the world is my oyster. Message side: I am confined to the oyster shell. 1 + -1 = 0.

Of course, On Kawara had to leave his hotel each day, if for no other reason than to pick up the day's paper, buy his cigarettes and post his cards. And hard against the hotel was the National Library of Mexico, housed at the time in the Church of Saint Augustine. Currently this splendid old building looks like this:

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I doubt if the same stretch of barbed wire was there in 1968. But perhaps it is a motif of the city that caught On Kawara's eye, something that one didn't find in New York. Anyway, a few yards further along the footpath would be a pop-up umbrella under which magazines, cigarettes and papers were sold. Let the artist buy what his heart desired and go back to the hotel.

In other words, let the artist slowly get acclimatised to the new place, as any introspective traveller does. On Kawara ate all his meals at the hotel, I suspect. Let's start by making that assumption, anyway. And on April 10, he ate a single egg for lunch. The next day it would be three tacos for dinner.

legtk6s002bs728oxlh4kajng_thumb_d059 Collection of Kasper König. On Kawara Studio. Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders.

I mention this egg business because, by early May, not only would On Kawara have settled on the postcard format for 'I GOT UP', but by then he would be typing out the names of everyone he met each day ('I MET)'. One can see the beginnings of this on the next preserved postcard, which seems to consist of the signatures of four people. Fellow diners at the Hotel Monte Carlo?

zfmp6mzds1erqyqnpdjzsg_thumb_d05b Collection of Kasper König. On Kawara Studio. Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders.

It seems that the above was the 12th postcard that On Kawara sent to his friend. Meanwhile, as I've said, the Date Painting was going according to plan. Hours were being spent in his hotel room. Painstakingly painting "Today": And here is the 13th postcard to KK:

mwnhpto4s4gafqkm5sij002bw_thumb_d05c Collection of Kasper König. On Kawara Studio. Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders.

Again, I feel it's the signature of someone (Katsusuke Miyauchi) that On Kawara met that day, as new projects were suggesting themselves but whose exact form was still evolving. How clever of KK to keep these cards right from the beginning. They so tell the story of an open mind forming new connections as it searched for a precise form that would satisfy certain aesthetic criteria.

This Katsusuke Miyauchi, born in 1944, became a noted Japanese author and peace activist. In a novel that was published in Japanese, he describes his meeting with On Kawara, who arranged for an extract to be published in 1993 in the tome, On Kawara: Whole and Parts.

'When I finally drifted south of the desert from the Arizona border to Mexico city, I met a human at a cheap hotel at the end of the field. The encounter was more accurate and appropriate to express in this way… At a point on Earth, about 19 degrees and 40 minutes north, latitude, and 99 degrees 10 minutes west, longitude, I met an alien-like earthling. When I entered the small stone room, a gray-painted canvas-like thing was placed on the table. The date was drawn on the surface in white Spanish: 'APRIL 6, 1968'.'

Actually, On Kawara did not make a Date Painting that day. It was April 5 or 9 that Miyauchi must have observed. Moreover, in Mexico, as we've seen, the custom is to place the day of the month before the month when writing the date, which is what On Kawara did. But no matter, I feel kinship with Katsusuke Miyauchi who was clearly as impressed by On Kawara in a Mexican hotel 1968 as I was by On Kawara in a loft studio in New York in 1966.

'The time of one revolution of the Earth was named “April 6, 1968” and was written on the canvas. That was the day of my first encounter with On Kawara. “It’s painting,” he said. The pronunciation of 'ing', which makes the verb the present progressive tense, was emphasised. “It’s a never-ending game, because you can enjoy it until you die,” he laughed shyly. From that day on, I had to take a closer look at his strange days. He spent six to seven hours a day painting the date in fine accurate Gothic script. Day after day, he just repeated the work.'

What is valuable about this record is the choice of certain words. On Kawara being an alien-like earthling. On's laughing shyly as he explains the game that you can enjoy playing until the day you die. Oh, and please note: no mention of templates.



MAY

A Date Painting every day of the month, which On Kawara hadn't achieved up to this time. Plus a second painting on three May days: the 4th, the 21st and the 29th. That's 34 paintings in all. The previous monthly record being 25, achieved in May of 1966.

Many of the subtitles mention 'Paris', where riots and strikes were going on. But by far the most significant day was May 10, because two further projects took on their final form that day.

'I MET' is a list of the people that On Kawara met from midnight to midnight. For some reason, none of the standard On Kawara books reproduce any of these lists until the one made on 1st of July, 1968. However, I've been in touch with Art Gallery Ontario, which seems to have the only publicly accessible set of 'I MET' and they have provided me with the following list:

10 MAYO, 1968 JOVITA PEREZ FRANCO LUIS CHI ORTIZ MARIA C. HERNANDEZ CELIA LOPEZ MEDINA WILLEM DOORN FAUSTINO FORTE KATSUSUKE MIYAUCHI MANUEL MORALES NANNI

Who are these people? Fellow guests at the hotel and members of staff, I presume. The previously mentioned Katsusuke Miyauchi is on the list. In his story he tells us that he left Mexico City for the States on May 30, so that is consistent. Perhaps it was his friendly presence that prompted On to paint out of his skin that month.

But hold on. Tama Art University have now put all of I MET online so I can do better here. Katsusuke Miyauchi is either the first name or the last name on each 'I MET' list from May 12 to May 17, suggesting late night conversation. Then nothing. So it would seem to have been on May 17 that left Mexico City to continue his travels.

The above list of names tells me that On Kawara had begun by getting the autographs of people he met on the message side of his daily postcard, but later he split this into two projects. A typewritten list of names, 'I MET'; and a postcard giving his getting up time, 'I GOT UP.'

Here is the much-reproduced card he sent to his friend and sponsor on May 10, 1968:

lidel0tfqrsnynifrpzkya_thumb_d04f Collection of Kasper König. On Kawara Studio. Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders.

Note that the artist had by now desisted with his 'Mr and Mrs 1968' joke. Moreover, he had stamped it '1' in the knowledge that he had established the format he intended to continue with.

Anne Wheeler tells us in On Kawara - Silence that by May 12, the artist was sending off two postcards a day. The second went to another recipient, although she doesn't mention who that person was. It may have been Dan Graham.

The information as to when On Kawara got up, takes over from the drawing of barbed wire atop a line as the main part of the message side of the card. Not 'woke up' but 'got up'. Got out of bed, one assumes.

And another date stamp was used for On Kawara's own address. Which is another basic piece of information that can be of use to the biographer. And will I make use of this information? Just wait and see.

I do have a repro of 10 MAY.68, so let's see it:

ydclv4lesqeiwlafsf002bn8q_thumb_d097 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

And a comparison with the May 1967 date, which I'm supposing was done using templates. Both are size B, so we should be comparing like with like:

r002bbzogmlsqizuk6ahbhfgw_thumb_ea93.7p6rdjovtbat5fbxdgp22q_thumb_eaba
Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.


It isn't the same, is it? The 1968 Date features bigger letters. The '6' is at a slightly different angle. And I don't think if you tilted the templated '6' you would get the '6' in '68'. And look how wide the 'A' in MAY is in '68'.


JUNE

First, let's summarise On Kawara's month of June in 1968:

  • 21 Date paintings. Each with a subtitle in Spanish.


  • 'I GOT UP' postcards were posted at the rate of two per day, making 60 in all. On June 5 and 12 the second postcard was posted to Dan Graham, which makes sense, as after Kasper König, Dan was On's closest friend in the art world. He died in 2022. The Tama Art University 'I GOT UP' tells us that the second cards also went to Joseph Kosuth, Christine Kozlov, Sol LeWitt and Dorothy and Herbert Vogel.


  • Each day of the month, On Kawara made a list of everyone he had met. He had a diary he used for this, in order to hand-write the names, and I don't know at what stage he typed up the list, but he had access to a typewriter. Tama Art University makes all this information accessible. Every single day.


  • Starting from the first day of June, On Kawara drew a red line on a photocopied map of Mexico City to indicate where he had gone that day. He produced such a map every single day. A small circle indicates where he 'GOT UP' and small red lines indicated the places where he stopped in his journeys. He didn't distinguish between walking and other modes of transport, so it's just one red line per day, making 30 annotated maps for June. Three cheers for Tama Art University's complete record of these maps.




Let's get on with the Date Painting analysis. I have 5 JUN.68, size A, complete with its cardboard box.



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Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.



And I have JUNE 10, 1967, size B, to compare it with:

ns5d002bg18qeu6cd12jhdj8g_thumb_eabb.unadjustednonraw_thumb_ea90 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Clearly different in so many ways. It's at this point the scary thought that On Kawara may have had a new set of templates made up for his Mexican trip comes to mind. For the moment, I assume that this was not so as he had so much time at his disposal in order to do his work. But I remain alert to the possibility.

I have a couple of 'I WENT' maps for June in my library. June 19 (reproduced in the 2008 Dallas Museum volume, On Kawara: 10 Tableaux and 16.952 Pages) is a high-quality print, from which I reproduce the detail below:

8vhemrwus002bwjqcuv002bjn4pq_thumb_d0ac Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders.

Having investigated June 19's movements with the help of Google Maps, I can say this. On Kawara would seem to have gone for a walk that began outside his hotel (red dot, upper far right of map) and took him around two blocks, which meant him making two entries into buildings. Perhaps he bought stamps. Or postcards. Or cigarettes. Perhaps he took the opportunity to post his day's 'I GOT UP' postcards.


On Kawara would seem to have made a second circuit on June 19. This was possibly by bus, taxi or car, as the road network - its one-way streets - is consistent with a route outwards, and a variation on that same route back to the hotel. The artist seems to have made two stops at the end of this route, one of them being at a point (close to the bottom left of the above map) where Woolworths has been located for about a hundred years. As you can see, it was still there in 2021 when I retraced the route using Google Streeview.


oo5kcjzortuskii465rj0025g_thumb_d0b4

If On Kawara did make a special visit to Woolworths, why might that have been? The store may have been a good source of stationery, certainly it used to be in Britain. Pads of paper, red biros, and the like, may have been purchased there. Even rubber stamps, perhaps. And what about brown paper and string in order to package up Date Paintings prior to posting them home to New York? This possibility got me thinking. Did On Kawara let the paintings pile up in his hotel room? A dangerous game, given that in May alone he produced 34. Did he post them individually? Or did he post the paintings in multiples of 'A' and 'B' size pictures? All the paintings he made while away from New York were of those two small sizes.

Moreover, if he did post the Date Paintings himself, which post office did he use in order to do so? Although he didn't visit it on Wednesday, June 19, I'd like to think that On Kawara made use of the magnificent Palacio Postal, Mexico's main post office since 1907. And still functioning in the 21st Century.

q6owes6fsc002bqacpmmfrbkq_thumb_d0b7



JULY

Below is 'I MET' for the first of July, 1968. All 31 of the 'I MET' lists are reproduced in the 2008 Dallas book.

njgke0mjtue8wcqww985ta_thumb_d103 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Anne Wheeler tells us in On Kawara - Silence, that Kasper König had once challenged On Kawara to come up with a poem that could work anywhere in the world. In Mexico City, On Kawara was in the habit of asking the international students and artists that used the Monte Carlo Hotel to write down their names, if they were unfamiliar to him, and he realised that the variety of name-types had a certain rhythm and interest. And so he formalised the process. As you can see from the above list, there are Spanish names, Japanese names and English names. The very first name: 'Rudolfo Leonardo Francisco Luis Gonzales Garcia' is almost a poem in itself. Which may be why this list was published in the Whole and Parts volume as well as in the Dallas book.
In July of 1968, On Kawara would have sent out 62 postcards: 31 to Kasper König and 31 to a second person. He also painted 15 Date Paintings. All of the subtitles use quotes from the Mexican newspapers about world events, except for 25 July, which reads simply "Hotel Monte Carlo." Perhaps that means On Kawara didn't leave the hotel that day. (He did leave it, but he didn't walk far.) His 'I MET' list for the same day is shown below:

002b4sjsdbjsusvkjlaedceqg_thumb_d105 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Often those first four names are at the top of the daily list. It suggests to me that those were the people On Kawara met over breakfast. The 'I MET' lists for July suggest only one late night. In other words, only on 15 July do the final names on the day's list - Leonard Rosenfeld and Steve Gilbert - appear as the first names on the 'I MET' list for 16 July, midnight being the cut-off time from one day to another. So my assumption is that this was a month of regular hours kept, and regular meal-times.


Also interesting are the three Hashimoto names. Could the Hashimoto family have run the hotel? Keiko may have come from Japan originally, but Roberto and Magdalena may have been born in Mexico. Altogether there were six Hashimotos met in July, spread over the whole month. Two with Japanese names and four with Spanish/Japanese names. Certainly, it is suggestive. Perhaps On Kawara even stayed in this hotel with his engineer father a few years before. I will be returning to one particular Hashimoto soon.

It's only from April 2023 that the I MET lists prior to July have become available thanks to Tama Art University, which I'll start calling Tama. I said above that the meetings with Katsusuke Miyauchi were significant, because they had such an impact on him. Miyauchi's meetings with On Kawara overlapped with Frank Donegan's. On Kawara MET Frank Donegan (sometimes with his wife, Jacqueline) nine times in 21 days including six of his last seven days in Mexico City. This would lead to a life-long friendship and several times Donegan would be the recipient of 'I GOT UP' cards over the years. But I'll leave that there for now.



AUGUST


On Kawara only painted three dates in August. The 9th, 14th and 15th. On the 9th, something violent happened in Montevideo, involving students. On the 14th, the subtitle is again about Montevideo in Uruguay, and communist students. And on the 15th of August, the subtitle states: "Fourteen Cuban refugees fled Cuba in a Russian-made cargo plane, which crossed the Straits of Florida and landed at an airport 40 km south of Miami." The artist's attention would seem to have been drawn towards left-wing and student politics. Though we can't be sure what he thought of the issues.

I have an image of one of the three. 14 AGO.68, reveal thyself:

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Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.


And now the comparison of a presumed template Date from 1967:


qozpbqxgshs23qtdxatbla_thumb_eabdfdryvr3cr6wuawxnkth09q_thumb_eab5 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

The thinner letters of the 1968 Date gives the painting a more fragile look. While the slightly denser and more regular appearance of the 1967 Date is intense and crisp and satisfying. More satisfying that the '68? What's really satisfying is following what On Kawara was up to in all its multi-layered complexity.

On Kawara then took more than a month away from Date Painting. I mean from 16 August until 20 September, so he did not miss a calendar month, he never did that. Hiroko Hiraoka first appears on an 'I MET' on September 10 (thank-you, Art Gallery Ontario, for that information, though since confirmed by Tama Art University). So it may be that On Kawara was preparing the ground for her arrival. In any case, he remained at the hotel, as this postcard attests:

c9drodaytfwctdu27yblea_thumb_d04b Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Note that On Kawara was using the same slightly unbalanced looking name and address for himself as he had from the beginning of the stamped 'I GOT UP' cards. He would have been looking forward to getting out of Mexico City with Hiroko, and refreshing his address.

William Copley was a New York-based artist who had publishing interests. In 1967, he decided to publish portfolios of 20th-century artist collaborations with the abbreviation SMS ('Shit Must Stop'). This publication had begun in February, 1968, and the first issue contained work - a treated set of four historic photographs - by Kasper König. No doubt On Kawara would have seen this publication, and met William Copley, before leaving New York at the end of March.

So the connection was made, and at some stage On Kawara had provided Copley with the first of the 100-year calendars he would make. And in August of 1968 Copley had printed it onto yellow oil-paper. On Kawara would, I suspect, have been pleased to be part of this esoteric art world production. SMS came in an exquisite cardboard box, echoing his own Date Painting practice. It would have made sense to send William Copley a sequence of 'I GOT UP' postcards. And with Kawara being one of the featured artists in his August issue, I can imagine Copley giving the postcards to friends and colleagues as fast as they arrived. But once the card was given away by its intended recipient, the importance of it to any subsequent owner was likely to be much less. And so, I suspect, these postcards were not preserved, by and large. There are only two kicking around the internet. Two from over a hundred sent to the second recipient from May 12 to August 31. I expect Nobu Fukui got one from this period, but I may never know. Thank goodness for the more widely reproduced collection of Kasper König.

Of course, I can update this now thanks to Tama Art University. In August, 1968, William Copley was sent five cards. But Sol LeWitt was sent at least four and Bill Crozier was sent at least one. Tama's copy of 'I GOT UP' does not suggest that Nobu Fukui was sent a card. But he may have been, as the book reproduces just one card every day, a card selected in 2006 by On Kawara, whereas two postcards were sent out. That allows On to keep some secrets.



SEPTEMBER

Tama's 'I MET' reveals that On Kawara met Joseph Kosuth and Christine Kozlov for four days in a row from the 24th of August and for six days in row from the 1st of September. Theybwould have discussed (and may have observed) Kawara's self-observation series. it seems (from Hiroko Hiraoka's 1969 letter to Kasper Konig) they were impressed.

Hiroko herself arrived in Mexico on September 10 and joined her partner at the Hotel Monte Carlo. On may have told her over the phone what he was up to. But even if he had, she would have had a chance for herself to see 'I GOT UP', 'I WENT' and I' MET' in action.

On Kawara made his first Date Painting in 35 days on September 20; two on the 21st; and another on the 22nd. The subtitle of this last was written in English, not Spanish, and reads: "I got up at 10.36 A.M." I've seen the postcards for that day and they confirm the getting up time:


kdhlzwctqp6xbz0025oap0025wzq_thumb_d09a Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Looking at this postcard with fresh eyes, perhaps Hiroko's, what can we say? On's own address uses an old-fashioned font together with a non-serif font. Sometimes the lines are centred and sometimes aligned to the left. The postcard to Kasper which went out on the same day used the old-fashioned serif font throughout. Clearly this didn't bother On as he continued to use it. But when setting up a new address, as for John Evans, he used a sans serif font, which is something On would stick with until the end of the project in 1979.

So who was John Evans? Another New York artist interested in postcards. His Wikipedia entry tells us that he was just about the same age as On Kawara, and that he made daily collages made from found objects in the East Village of New York City. It says further that in 1964 Ray Johnson introduced Evans to the international Mail Art underground. Initially, the works went from one artist to the next, with each adding additional embellishments before mailing it. Evans began using the stamp "Avenue B School of Art", referencing the neighbourhood in which he lived and where the art originated. So On Kawara may have got from John Evans the idea of using inked rubber stamps on a postcard. Though the history of using rubber stamps on paper is more complicated than that. I've also seen the cards sent to Evans on September 9 and 24. It's possible that he received the second postcard between September 1 (Roy Lichtenstein) and September 28 (Joseph Kosuth).

At this stage, the postcards were going to Kasper König, really as an extension of the Date Painting project. With a second card, which could almost be seen as a networking opportunity, drawing attention to On Kawara's philosophy and aesthetics. Perhaps in the back of his mind, thinking ahead, the second card was a back-up in case the first card was lost in the post. Or was there more to it than that?

Hiroko: "Why two cards each day?"

On: "I think you will see why before the end of the year."

1. BOGOTA (7 days)

By the end of September, after six months at the Monte Carlo Hotel in Mexico City, On left Mexico with Hiroko for Bogota, the capital of Columbia. Pre-Tama Art University, I asked Art Gallery Ontario for an 'I MET' list for the Bogota period just to make sure that Hiroko had travelled with him. And here it is:

27 SEPTEMBRE, 1968 HIROKO HIRAOKA LUIS ROBERTO SANCHEZ F.

In 2000, Kasper König arranged for On Kawara Horizontality/Verticality to be published, consisting entirely of 'I WENT' on each left-hand page, and both sides of the 'I GOT UP' postcard on the right-hand page. The format seems to have an air of inevitability about it. Though it entirely omits 'I MET'.

hnold59oqqsv9wrbksifia_thumb_e08dybqkpntcr2atkwrocx95hw_thumb_e08e Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the One Million Years Foundation.

Note the stylistic difference between On's own address, newly created from letters, and the Kasper Konig address which had been set up by May 10, 1968. You might also notice a stylistic disparity between the date stamps on the 'I WENT' and the 'I GOT UP'. The postcard would have been stamped on the day itself. The 'I WENT' and 'I MET' were often created in draft form to begin with, and On Kawara would catch up with himself when he got his typewriter out. So the date stamp was more likely to be the same one on the 'I MET' and 'I WENT'. Actually, why am I saying that? The artist had less room on the postcard, so he abbreviated the month, as simple as that.

On Kawara would only be in Bogota for a week or so, but he made a Date Painting on the 28th and the 29th of the month. They are done in what I now understand to be his Mexican style:

cubsakfwrmi3y7988gfn4a_thumb_d098 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

But I should check to see if his style is evolving, as it did in New York prior to the use of template in 1967. I'm lining up four size A paintings, two by two:

waysyq7lrmeggymsd5002bbjg_thumb_eab8-2.ns5d002bg18qeu6cd12jhdj8g_thumb_eabb-2 qozpbqxgshs23qtdxatbla_thumb_eabd-2.yvqwc09yr3e0025fg3ujg20025fq_thumb_eabe Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

I don't see any differences. Though I don't think that implies that templates were being used. Though they might have been. And if they were, it was not the same set as he'd been using in New York in 1967.

In essence, Mexico had been a home-from-home. On Kawara decided to up his game when he left Mexico City, but to stick to the same style of lettering he'd employed in Mexico City. He really was taking his practice on the road for the next six months.

Let us remember what Wolfgang Max Faust (a name worthy of any 'I MET' list) was told by On Kawara. In the West, 'one' is the basis of thinking. In Japanese culture, complements permeate all thought. Let me spell that out. The painted canvas complements the newspaper cutting. The Date Painting as a whole complements the three self-observation exercises. And within the latter, I GOT UP complements 'I WENT'. 'I WENT' complements 'I MET'. 'I GOT UP' complements 'I MET'. And of course, 'I GOT UP' is a pair of complementary sides. The mass produced photo (equivalent to the newspaper cutting) and the hand-stamped message (equivalent to the painted date on canvas).

One is tempted to suggest another pair of complementaries. While travelling, On Kawara either got up, went out, saw a few tourist sites and met a few people. Or he stayed in and Date Painted. Though it wasn't as simple as that. Sure, he Date Painted some days. But he did the self-observation series every day, including Date Painting days. Something I need to bear in mind as I carry on this investigation. What I mean is, on Date Painting days, presumably he didn't cover as much ground on his travels and he met fewer people.



OCTOBER

2. QUITO (9 days)

After Bogota, On Kawara and Hiroko Hiraoka continued to fly south to Quito in Ecuador. On October 1, he painted a third Bogota Date Painting. And on October 4, he painted the first of his four Quito Date Paintings. Let Google translate all four from the Spanish:

October 4, '68: "Five unidentified flying objects were perceived tonight from various points in Malaga, Spain."

October 5, '68: "In Tokyo, the world champion of lightweight in boxing, the Japanese Hiroshi Kobayashi, today maintained his title by defeating Jaime Valladares of Ecuador."

October 6, '68: "A woman with grey hair today forced the pilot of a Mexican tourist passenger plane to go to Havana, when the machine was flying over the Cariba Sea."

October 8, '68: "The first anniversary of the death of 'Che' Guevara."

There is a Spanish emphasis to each of these new items. A 'Spanish Empire' that spreads all over the world, is hinted at. Certainly, it's clear the artist was not in New York, reading The New York Times.

kmq4wmanrqcamxlaxs0u6w_thumb_d0e4 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

I don't have a repro of the October 8 Date Painting, but I do have a full set of self-observations'I MET', 'I WENT' and 'I GOT UP' for that day:

8 OCTOBRE, 1968 HIROKO HIRAOKA MARIA EUGENIA ESCOBAR A.

2m2o1osfqqg0025u0piymevvq_thumb_e80fdxiqdijdqg2fpjznxou1ng_thumb_d11d Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the One Million Years Foundation.


On Kawara got up. He went walking with Hiroko from his hotel in Quito, and in his travels they encountered one Maria Eugenia Escobar A. That's a rather strange way of recording her name, with the A as a distinct initial. Just as in the Bogota 'I MET' the name Luis Roberto Sanchez F., gave the same treatment to the 'F'. Perhaps, at this stage, Kawara was still thinking of the poetic quality of the names he was recording.

When I Google 'Maria Eugenia Escobar', along with 'Quito', I get this:

'There are no limits to imagination, nor to taking on new challenges, regardless of age, says María Eugenia Escobar, 78 years old. Three months ago, the septuagenarian entered the field of micro-entrepreneurs. Every day María Eugenia attends the Padre Ilean center, located next to the Pastorcito de Fátima Church in Recreo, where she shows all her creativity. In the place - which she and her colleagues have turned into a small workshop -, the smiles and the cries of 'pass me the rubber' mix while they make various articles in which she uses recycled materials. Thus the hours pass until mid-afternoon. “There is no day that is missing because I feel productive here,” she says as she shows one of the stools made from plastic bottles.'

That's from 2022. Which means that this Maria Eugenia Escobar would have been 25 in 1968. So it's feasible that it's the same person. But one cannot let 54 years pass and expect to be able to accurately trace an individual from a mere name. Or can you?

Given that On Kawara Date Painted on this day, I don't think the meeting with Maria Eugenia Escobar could have been for very long. But I don't know.

The woman was 25 in 1968 and is 78 in 2022. Many of the people listed on 'I MET' were a lot older than 25 in 1968 (On Kawara was 35) and are now dead. However, some will still be alive. Some I may be able to trace an email address for. And some may recall their meeting with On Kawara and be willing to tell me about it, as Nobu Fukui has. I will be bearing all that in mind as I carry on with this work.

On and Hiroko were still in Quito, Ecuador, on October 10, because here is the day's 'I WENT' which I intend to dig into.


c9c4epsptbiahtob9wrgow_thumb_d0ef Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Let me reorientate so that north is at the top, and zero-in. Like so:

bigb002b1z9rmkxs3rofqj0025mq_thumb_d11c Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

And now let me turn to Google Maps. Marking with a red circle (by the word 'Grande') where On and Hiroko slept (at the Hotel Majestic, as per the postcard to KK), and those seven points where On visited a place, presumably with Hiroko.

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I seem to have assumed On Kawara to be in an effervescent mood this day, judging by the kicking symbol. Let's take a look inside a room at the Hotel Plaza Grande (formerly the Hotel Majestic), Quito, with the help of the Google camera.

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I'm reading online that the building was erected in 1930. 'Due to its height and exterior decoration, it's one of the buildings that stand out most in the whole of the central square of the capital of Ecuador, in addition to being recognised as the first great hotel of the belle epoque of the city.' In 2007 it changed its name from the Majestic to the Hotel Plaza Grande, so I have got the right place.

That bottle of wine can't be for On Kawara - I'm reliably informed that he did not like alcohol, though Hiroko liked a glass of wine on occasion, though not to drink on her own.

Let me just remind you where On has got to on this non-Date Painting day. I visualise him in this fantastic room overlooking a lovely square, the Plaza Grande. How did On Kawara afford it, given that his plan was not to sell any of the Date Paintings for five years from the inception of the project? Perhaps Hiroko was funding the South American travel. Perhaps more money had been received from Kasper.

Also, what was On doing with the Date Paintings he was producing while travelling? This is something that's touched on in the July, 1969 letter to Kasper from Hiroko. She mentions that when they landed back at New York, 50 paintings were confiscated, and they didn't get them back for a month as their status as paintings was investigated. Now I calculate that from the time Hiroko joined On and they left Mexico, the artist painted 44 Date Paintings. So perhaps the Paintings made in Mexico before Hiroko's arrival were posted to her in New York, perhaps from that grand Post Office in Mexico City.

And then the ones made thereafter were posted from Bogota, Quito, etc. back to the Hotel Monte Carlo to which On and Hiroko would return for a day or two before returning to New York. No, it doesn't make sense for On and Hiroko to have kept on a room in Mexico City while travelling for six months. Which means that the three Date Paintings made in Bogota were now part of their luggage, and that the four Date Paintings made in Quito would also have to be carted around. One begins to realise it wasn't at all easy being a Date Painter, touring the cities of South America, with no certainty of what would happen to the Date Paintings whenever they were confronted by normal, everyday life. By which I mean hotel managers, customs officials, etc.

Nevertheless, I sense this was a time to celebrate. On Kawara living like a king. Travelling the world with his lover, conscious of each day and every day. Conscious of each night's sleep and each morning's awakening to more restraint and repetition, discipline and joy. With the above hotel room in mind, let's illustrate this essay with two of the 'I GOT UP' cards that On Kawara may have stamped out on that very window-side table.

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These reproductions are taken from Tama Art University's website. So they are the cards chosen by On Kawara in his 2008 book. In 1968 it's almost always the Kasper Konig card that is reproduced. But while in Lima, the card sent to Sol Lewitt, the equatorial latitude zero card that On Kawara must surely have liked is reproduced. See how Kasper's address on the October 10 card is still stamped with the plate that was put together for the May 10 card, even though the letters don't have the same impact as in the adjoining card.

3. LIMA (8 days)

Next stop in this southern journey, Lima, capital of Peru, where On made Date Paintings on the 14th, the 16th and the 17th of October. But I have all three self-observation components for October 12, so let's start there.

12 OCTOBRE, 1968

HIROKO HIRAOKA
CESAR FALCON
HERBERT HUSSEK
GERTRUDE HUSSEK
RAQUEL JODOROWSKY


2momnmhxtkuboyzwq9bjhq_thumb_e810ghal389as0025eipj0g6kwixa_thumb_e090 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.


On Kawara got up at 9.30. He went walking with Hiroko from his hotel in Lima, and in his travels they encountered Cesar Falcon, Herbert Hussek, Gertrude Hussek and Raquel Jodorowsky. A meal shared with fellow guests at the hotel? One feels pretty sure that Googling is not going to help in this instance. Having said that, let's give 'Raquel Jodorowsky' a spin as that is not Spanish… It seems she was a writer of Ukranian immigrant parents. A fuller name is given than On Kawara recorded, but I imagine it's the same person as the name would have been unusual in Peru, and it does seem to have been shortened to Raquel Jodorowsky for everyday purposes and on the covers of her many books.

Raquel Lea Jodorowsky Prullansky (Tocopilla, May 24, 1927-Lima, August 23, 2011); was a Chilean poet, writer and painter. Known as "the butterfly carved in iron", she lived in Peru since the early 1950s. Her style has been described as dreamlike and surrealist.

She would have been 42 when On and Hiroko encountered her. 'Butterfly carved in iron'. On Kawara would have appreciated that. And I've no reason to suppose that Hiroko wouldn't have been impressed also. One begins to realise that meeting people might have been one of the pleasures of travel that On and Hiroko became so attached to. And this wasn't a Date Painting day, so the meeting could have been prolonged.

The Hostal Del Sol does not sound as upmarket as the Hotel Majestic. And I haven't had much luck with Google Maps on this occasion. On and Hiroko went a long way along Avenida Arequipa, but this may have been a shopping trip. Or the area has changed too much in the intervening decades. So let's move on.

I'm not sure On Kawara was really grounded when he was in Lima. Each of the three Date Paintings he made there (October 14, 16 and 17) is called the same extraordinary thing. In Spanish it reads: "La Apolo-7 en el espacio y la XIX OLympiada an la Ciudad de Mexico." I can translate that myself without any help from Google: "Apollo 7 in space and the 19th Olympics in Mexico City."

Another thought. Perhaps it was the Olympics coming to Mexico that accounts for the artist leaving that country's capital. The cost of the hotel room at the Hotel Monte Carlo would surely have rocketed. And On could watch the Olympics on the TV of a hotel room anywhere in the world.


I have requested (in pre-Tama days) a supplementary Lima 'I MET' from AGO. And here it is:

17 OCTOBRE, 1968
TAKASHI HASHIMOTO
HIROKO HIRAOKA
AUGUSTO HINOJOSA A.
SHOICHI TODA

Takashi Hashimoto must have been part of On Kawara's inner circle. Not only was he 'met' in July, 1968, in Mexico City, he was present for On Kawara's monumental effort re the moon landing of July 1969. As you'll see in the next chapter. How many days of the Lima trip was he around for? Five days, from October 13 to 17.

kmh76woerw64z401l002bn14w_thumb_d0e5 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

In 2008, when putting together the complete 'I GOT UP', it's only cards that went to Kasper Konig that are reproduced. Where the other card went is a mystery. However, if you keep your eyes open, the odd bit of data emerges on the internet. Although On partially reconstructed two cards that had been sent to Dan Graham in June 1968 for the 2008 book, suggesting those cards had not been retained by Dan, this gem exists for October 19:

lcpo0025g1dq1i114epd3euja_thumb_e85a Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Aren't the gloves great? I'm sure On Kawara would have approved of them. I'm not so sure he would have approved of that way of framing the postcard. The picture side matters also. The card sent to Kasper Konig on the same day is a different one. I know that because I can see enough of the word description on both cards to deduce it.

The importance of the picture side will further be brought out before the end of the year. Trust me, dear reader, and trust those white-gloved hands with which I type out these words.

4. SANTIAGO (4 days)

On Kawara's last night in Lima, Peru, was the 19th of October, and his first night in Santiago, Chile, was the 20th. He wasted no time settling into his new city lodgings, immediately making a Date Painting. Its subtitle requires no translation: "Jacqueline Kennedy y Aristoteles Onasis en su ceremony matrimonial en la Isla de Scorpios, Grecia."

Hiroko: "Oh, On-san, have you joined the jet-set? Are you now indistinguishable from those celebrities that fly from one exclusive place on the planet to another and to Hell with what is happening in Viet Nam or Newark or Paris?"

They both laugh.

Next day. Let's show the full picture. 'I MET', 'I WENT', 'I GOT UP' and Date Painting:

21 OCTOBRE, 1968
HIROKO HIRAOKA

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Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.


On Kawara didn't go exploring Santiago on the 21st. He did not much more than stroll round the block from the Hotel Sau Paulo. He painted the date, its subtitle being the medal table at the Olympics, showing gold, silver and bronze tallies for the leading 22 nations. That is, every country that had won at least one gold medal. (USA 24, Japan 4 and Great Britain 2, if you're asking.)

The artist now had three weeks before he next made a Date Painting in Buenos Aires. Time for watching some more Olympics, though they finished on the 27th. Time for a little look around? Where was he again? Santiago, Chile. Here is 'I WENT' for October 23, courtesy of On Kawara: 10 Tableaux and 16,952 Pages. Which is to say, the Dallas Museum book.
002bebcdzjfq6002bg9f98lg5vqa_thumb_d0f7 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Let's zero-in to the historical centre again. Let's face it, On Kawara does not concern himself with the suburbs or the industrial zones of these cities. Not from what I've seen anyway.

r0025oi1te3sxuimit7knewva_thumb_d0f0 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Over to Google for some help with the visualisation, albeit using 2021 maps and satellite views:

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I've taken a tour, using the Street View function, up and down the streets that On Kawara strolled over 50 years ago. Fairly narrow streets and high buildings on either side, a bit like New York. The nine stops that On Kawara registered on 23 October may well have been for routine things, like banks, a post office, a paper shop and somewhere to buy cigarettes. But the only purpose for walking onto the Cerro Santa Lucia was to enjoy the fabulous views all around. This may be the pick of the available views, showing the mountains in the east. 0dycnq8ys5wdrfyrpusptq_thumb_d125 I've requested October 23's I MET from AGO (another pre-Tama necessity). And here it is, repeat of October 21:

21 OCTOBRE, 1968 HIROKO HIRAOKA

On Kawara and Hiroko Hiraoka enjoying a stroll through Santiago. Enjoying the view from Cerro Santa Lucia. After an hour up there, back to the hotel. I've been able to make out from a low-quality reproduction of the card that OK sent KK on October 24, that the artist stayed at Hotel Sao Paulo, 357 San Antonio, Santiago. That is a high-rise hotel between two wider high-rises. Just a standard hotel.

jtbktspttdcjbzyeurdsww_thumb_f308 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

October 24, 1968. A very pleasant day with Hiroko. A non-Date Painting day, but you can't have everything. Not if, deep down, you're a fellow traveller just as much as you are a Date Painter.

5. BUENOS AIRES (31 days)



NOVEMBER

A postcard to Kasper König dated 25 October places On Kawara in Buenos Aires as early as then. He spent a month in Buenos Aires, only making a Date Painting on November 14. This was the only picture painted from October 21 to November 28. I suspect On did it so that he didn't miss out a calendar month altogether. A discipline he kept until the last year of his life.

99bx8afzqeu8y84sykn0nq_thumb_d0fa Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

14 NOV. 1968: subtitle "The Soviet Union announced that its spacecraft Zond-6 circled the moon today and is continuing its translunar flight."

On and Hiroko stayed in Bueno Aires until November 26. The 'I WENT' for that day shows a red arrow travelling off the bottom of the map alongside the word 'Montevidio'

e9e2jfhtqiygq2v0im002b3yw_thumb_e812cml9i3ysraqeo4wyqybdba_thumb_e092 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

26 NOVEMBRE, 1968

HIROKO HIRAOKA

JOSE PADIN
CARLOS SILVA
ARY BRIZZI
MARTIN MICHARVEGAS

I expect Jose Padin was either guest or manager at the hotel, for reasons that I won't go into.

Here is a biographical note on Carlos Silva. In it, there are hints as to why he may have been met this day in 1968 by On and Hiroko

'Carlos Silva was born in 1930 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was a self-taught painter, graphic artist and textile designer. In 1965 he participated in the Sao Paulo Biennial. He exhibited in numerous galleries of Buenos Aires as well as in Chicago, New York, Caracas, Paris and Japan. In 1981 the Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art gave him a retrospective.'

I wonder if we will be equally lucky with the next name: Ary Brizzi:

'Ary Brizzi (1930) was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he developed a career as a painter, sculptor and designer. In 1965 he represented Argentina at the 8th São Paulo Biennial. The Argentine government sent him to the United States in 1968, as a member of the exhibitions 'Four New Argentine Artists', at the Bonino Gallery (New York), and 'Beyond Geometry', at the Center for Inter-American Relations (New York).'

With only two gauchos in the postcard's saddle. My hopes are not high as I Google 'Martin Micharvegas'. But more success:

'Argentine poet, musician, painter, doctor... (b. Buenos Aires, 1935). In 1971 he recorded in Paris his first album for Moshé-Naïm "Décadas". In 1976 he exiled himself to Brazil and later to Spain, where he settled.'

If he left Argentina for good in 1966, he may not be the right man.

But let's say he was. In which case, Martin Micharvegas died in 2016. Ary Brizzi died in 2014. Carlos Silva died in 1987. Really someone should have been doing this work 10-20 years ago, not long after the appearance of the complete 'I MET' in 2004. Then we might have fielded the impressions and memories of Micharvegas and Brizzi. Where the meetings took place. What was discussed. And so on.

As for Silva, here is a quote from the latter: “I became aware of vitality, which is the most important ingredient. Without this the art work is dead, lacking continuity in time...”

I think the reason that On Kawara wasn't Date Painting in Buenos Aires is that he and Hiroko were socialising with the art crowd to be found here.

When I said that 'I MET' complements 'I WENT', what I meant, in part, was that each person was met at a particular place on the day's map. I wonder if I'll get to a time and place where someone's memory will allow 'I MET' and 'I WENT' to be brought together in such a way. I already know I'm going to have good go at this re London in 1977. A space-time party is going to be had there and then. But that's getting ahead of ourselves.

6. MONTEVIDEO (6 days)

On Kawara made three Date Paintings in Montevideo in 1968 (Nov. 28, 29 and 30). I have a reproduction of one of them. Really the book Date Paintings in 89 Cities, published in 1992, comes into its own in On Kawara's post-Mexico period as far as Date Painting images are concerned.

sdvcihe8tdg5axxyhabaiw_thumb_d0e8 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

30 NOV. 1968. Subtitle: " 'Hotel Parque Casino' with an EXCEDRIN tablet in Montevideo." Montevideo, the city you go to Date Paint and little else? It looks that way. Though judging by this subtitle, On Kawara may have been suffering from toothache or headache, restricting his activities.





DECEMBER

1 DICIEMBRE, 1968

HIROKO HIRAOKA

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The postcard for the 1st of December suggests the docks at Montevideo. Just the two of them that day: On Kawara and Hiroko. And no Date Painting.

They didn't get up until after 1pm (On still suffering from whatever was ailing him?). But the day's 'I WENT' reveals that On and Hiroko's excursion took them to two beauty spots (away from the docks on the left edge of the above map).


I'm talking about their stops to the east of their hotel, where their route appears to be a triangle. Assuming they took the southerly route outward, they first went around a park just above a beach, and stopped, it seems to me, at a government building. At least that's what it is on the current Google map, and it's clearly been there for a long time. After that, they went to the beach in the bottom right corner of the map, Playa Pocitos.

After that they went north and took a walk in some parkland. The most northernmost part of the route seems to have been around a piece of public sculpture which has been there since the 1930s. Monumenta la Carreta, depicts a wagon, a horseman, and eight oxen pulling the wagon, all in black; bronze and granite.

There is a poem called Days by Philip Larkin, written in 1953. My own version of its second verse appears here:

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?


Ah, solving that question
Brings Hiroko and On Kawara
In their dressing gowns
Running over the city.


7. BUENOS AIRES (again, this time for 27 days in December and 15 more into January, 1969)

Because this is a return trip to Buenos Aires, On Kawara: Horizontality/Veritcality hasn't deemed it necessary to provide a second double-page spread of 'I WENT' and 'I GOT UP' over and above the one for 26 November, 1968. Fair enough.

Something exciting happens in Buenos Aires this time around. Takashi Hashimoto joins On and Hiroko for six days, beginning on December 4. On responds to Takashi's presence by beginning a vivacious set of postcards. I set out the story in detail in GAME ON: gaucho, gaucho, but will summarise it here. The following two cards were sent to Kasper Konig on alternate days for the rest of the month:


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That's to say, Kasper received 14 one-gaucho cards and 13 or 14 two-gaucho cards. They are all reproduced in the I GOT UP version made in 2008. What the 2008 version doesn't show, but some extra detective work does, is that another two-gaucho card was being sent out on alternate days to Frank Donegan. And I presume another one-gaucho card was sent out to someone else. (The GAME ON chapter suggests it could have been Katsusuke Miyauchi, Joseph Kosuth, Dan Graham or Masayoshi Homma.

Whether it was Takashi Hashimoto that put On up to the playful pattern or not, the fact is that only On (and possibly Hiroko and Takashi) would have known what was going on. Kasper would only have been aware of the alternating cards he was getting. Not knowing that Frank Donegan was also getting two-gaucho card and that A.N. Other was also getting a one-gaucho postcard. Moreover, because of the postcards that On chose to let be reproduced for the 2008 book - only the postcards to Kasper Konig - he was keeping the bigger picture to himself.

So it could be that this is why, or part of the reason, On Kawara chose to send out two postcards every day rather than just one. It increased the game-playing potential of the project.

On Kawara made eight Date Paintings from the 13th of December to the 29th. Three of the eight Date paintings have subtitles focussing on Apollo 8's mission. The Moon mission would get all the more intriguing in 1969, leading to the moon landing in July. (Get excited, dear reader, that's coming up in the next chapter.) And On Kawara had already registered his interest in the space race in 1966 by making JULY 18, 1966 his biggest Date of the year, subtitled 'Gemini 10', and placing the pre-Apollo mission Date on the wall of his inner studio. Anyway, back to 1968:

21 DEC. 68: "The Apollo-8 spacecraft today got rid of all earthly obstacles in the greatest adventure in history and led its three crew members into interplanetary space on the first human flight to the moon."

24 DEC. 68: "THE SURFACE OF THE MOON IS OF A GREY COLOUR THAT LOOKS LIKE PLASTER AND IT IS SEEDED WITH CRATERS."

27 DEC. 68: "Exactly at the set time, the Apollo-8 capsule carrying the 3 astronauts, Frank Borman, James A. Lovell and William A. Anders, touched the waves of the Pacific today just 5,000 meters from the rescue aircraft carrier Yorktown."

And so we get to the 'I MET' lists for December 24 and 25. Surely these lists will tell me what kind of birthday On enjoyed on the 24th, and what sort of Xmas On and Hiroko enjoyed in Buenos Aires, so far from home. Be still my beating heart…

24 DECEMBRE, 1968
HIROKO HIRAOKA

25 DECEMBRE, 1968
HIROKO HIRAOKA
JOSE PADIN

I know nothing about Jose Padin, but if Jose had his wits about him he would realise what a visionary lifestyle On Kawara had. Or maybe it's not Jose Padin but me, Duncan McLaren, who is in the best place to see this clearly. I had been so taken with the idea of On Kawara in cave mode, painting each day and lining his New York loft with those paintings in 1966. I, like Katsusuke Miyauchi and Joseph Kosuth, had been so impressed by On taking his Date Painting from New York to Mexico City, and adding the daily series of getting up time, going places and meeting people in 1968. But now, by the end of 1968, On has taken that even further. He is hopping from one city to another, noting his getting up time, making his map, and listing those people he has met. If he keeps this up he will have Date Painted in every city on the planet. If he keeps this up, he will have met everyone and been everywhere. From cave dweller to international traveller in just two years.

But let's just make sure his style is holding up under this ambitious program. As he's been travelling through South America he hasn't been loosening his grip on his paintbrush, has he? Dear reader, I give you Quito, Lima, Santiago and Montevideo.

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Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.


I missed out Buenos Aires there, because the Date I have a repro of is a size B and those last four are size A. But here it is, coming up next, in all its consistent glory. Let's call it On Kawara's Mexican and Spanish-speaking South American house style of 1968:

bskj5hk8rqu2i1bfmhpnpw_thumb_eac2 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

I'm already wondering how On Kawara's Date Painting was going to evolve once On and Hiroko got back to New York. And, if he carried on with his 'I GOT UP' (which he does), what difference it would make to be sending out postcards from home.

'Getting back to New York. Getting up in New York.' I wonder how often On Kawara's thoughts returned to this in his simply glorious year of exile. 1969 is simply glorious too, but stating that will just sound like hyperbole.