I'd long told myself that if I ever managed to access 'I MET' and 'I WENT' for the week On Kawara spent in London from May 25 to June 2, 1977, then I would gorge myself on such riches. Thanks to the libraries of Art Gallery Ontario and the University of Michigan, respectively, that day has been possible for a month or two. Now that I have a clear week in front of me to work on this essay, "let the wordfest commence!"

I should say up front, dear reader, that a big reason for my enthusiasm is that I feel London is my city. I was there from the summer of 1979, when I began training to be a Chartered Accountant in an ugly office block in Moorgate, until 2003, when my parents' declining health caused me to come back to Blairgowrie to help them maintain their household. That's 24 full years of London life - most of it post-accountancy, tracking down contemporary art wherever it was to be found. What a wealth of experience to bring to bear on On Kawara's eight days in the city.

Fleshing out On Kawara's time in London. What would the artist himself think about another artist/writer attempting to do that? We won't ever know. But he did put 'I WENT' and 'I MET' in the public realm, so I feel comfortable doing this.


Let's begin with On Kawara's 'I WENT'. I nearly lost my appetite when I first saw it:

ahnkad8sq9kxpv00250025jvuuca_thumb_e241 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

On Kawara's route, drawn with a red ballpoint pen, seemed too complicated, with too many crossovers for me to work out what was going on. But as soon as I applied myself to it, everything began to fall into place. The first breakthrough was noticing that there was only one arrow going off the map towards the top right, marked 'VAUXHALL BRIDGE ROAD AND MILLBANK' and another arrow coming back into the map beside the same streets marked on the bottom edge of the map. This implied that the arrow coming into the map from low on the right edge marked 'Charing Cross STATION' was the starting point of the day's movement.

On Kawara began the day in Paris. I've decided not to investigate whether his point of entry into England was Heathrow or Gatwick or Dover. I'm content to know from the above 'I WENT' that his entry to London was Charing Cross Station. That's the mainline station serving the south of London that is located just north of the River Thames, and a hundred yards or so from what I understand to be the tourist's centre of the city: Trafalgar Square.

Arriving at Charing Cross with luggage, On Kawara would surely have hired a cab to take him to his hotel. The map below shows this initial journey disentangled from the rest of his day's movements.


While driving along The Mall, shortly after passing the elegant facade of the ICA (an important venue for contemporary art back then), On would have had his first sighting of Buckingham Palace. Then his route would have taken him along the eastern perimeter of Hyde Park. This huge park is where the Serpentine Gallery is located and many times I've walked for half an hour through the park in the hope of seeing a stimulating show there. I usually enjoyed the walk as much as the work, and enjoyed both hugely. Then On's taxi travelled along the north of Hyde Park, which gives me an excuse to mention that Peter Pan still haunts Kensington Gardens. Peter was born when J.M.Barrie seduced the entire Llewellyn Davies family. Peter Pan is the boy who never grew up. And if you never grow up then you can't possibly die. Or so the story goes.

b8hk3xdeq2q7j4yyjtyu1g_thumb_e26d-2 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Okay. We're there. I know from the message side of the postcards sent to Jurgen Wesseller on May 28, 29 and 30, 1977, confirmed by the 'I WENT' maps made in the London week, that On Kawara stayed at Rena House Hotel, 34 Craven Hill Gardens, London W2.

First sight of that hotel. A fine, Victorian, neo-classical terrace which overlooks its own gardens.


On Kawara may have settled in by taking a stroll locally. But it looks to me like he wasted little time in making his way to the Lisson Gallery which was located on the other side of Paddington Station. That's to say, he went from the tiny red mark indicating the hotel in the bottom left corner of the map below, to the tiny red mark indicating entry into the Lisson Gallery in the top right corner.

exp002b4prrqe002blpjo56i9blq_thumb_e26c Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

In the clearer and less entangled map below, I've marked On Kawara's route in green because I think the artist would have walked it. There are many fine old buildings to see in front of bustling Paddington.


As you can see, the Lisson Gallery is marked on the map above. The gallery still has two separate premises on Bell Street and one off the adjoining Lisson Street, but in 1977 the address was 66-68 Bell Street, which is no longer part of the Lisson Gallery empire.


Google has an archive of images, from the one above, in 2022, where GULFSTAR LIMITED seems to be on the way out, to the one below, in 2012, when United Eastern Trading was located there:


I don't yet have a picture of the exterior of 66-68 Bell Street when it was Lisson Gallery, though I'll look out for one. Instead, the 'I MET' for the day can be rolled out at this point:

May 26, 1977
Fiona Logsdail
Nicholas Logsdail
Rory Logsdail

Nicholas Logsdail was the director of the Lisson Gallery. Fiona Logsdail was his first wife. And Rory was their infant son. On Kawara did not 'meet' anyone else that day. Not the taxi driver. Not the hotel manager. Yet he did meet a two- or three-year-old boy. Which is fine, the artist would have had his own rules for deciding if he had 'met' a person encountered.

I should say a little more about Nicholas Logsdail. He was educated at Bryanston (a public school) in Dorset. Due to the influence of his uncle, Roald Dahl, he went to art school rather than university. And while attending the Slade he bought a property to live in what was then a rundown part of London, and converted it into a gallery in order to show work by his fellow students. I will have to research that further. But by 1977 the gallery had earned itself a reputation for showcasing cutting-edge art, representing the likes of Anish Kapoor and Tony Cragg.

Given that On Kawara met Fiona and Rory as well as Nicholas, it would seem that the family lived in a flat adjoining the gallery, perhaps upstairs from it. Or perhaps either 66 Bell Street or 68 Bell Street was the residence. It only matters in the sense that there was no big house in the country that On Kawara would be going to in order to meet the gallerist.

What next? Well, On went out for a walk, probably guided by Nicholas and possibly accompanied by his family. They walked north-west to Lords cricket ground, then walked south-east in the vicinity of Regent's Park


What seems slightly odd is that they didn't go into Regent's Park earlier than they did. I like to think that's because On Kawara wanted to see 221B Baker Street, home of Sherlock Holmes. However, the address wasn't made into a museum until the 1990s, and in any case, the sharp northern turn taking the party through Clarence Gate and onto the Outer Circle of the park for the first time, is taken just a few yards before 221B Baker Street.

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

I visited this part of London often from 2001, when I was writing The Casebook of Non-Sherlock Holmes. Thanks to my reviews in the Independent on Sunday and my features in Contemporary Visual Art, ambitious artists would regularly approach me about their work, perhaps hoping for publicity. I would engage with their practice, and each case would be concluded with a pastiche Sherlock and Watson story. Later, from 2003 to 2005, I would come back to London while researching The Literary Casebook of Non-Sherlock Holmes. This involved dead writers rather than live artists, partly because I no longer had much access to the art world. Four late Victorian writers - J.M. Barrie, John Ruskin, George Bernard Shaw and Thomas Hardy - were researched by me, the meticulous biographer, each investigation again concluding with a wild fiction involving Sherlock and Watson.

The last paragraph may strike the reader as a digression, but I plan that its relevance will emerge in due course. Note the title of the next GAME ON.

As you can see from the above map, On Kawara's party approached Queen Mary's Rose Garden from the south or the east, it doesn't matter which. Since the 1930s there has been a Japanese garden with water features here, and it would seem that On Kawara walked all around it. Homesick, perhaps. London is such a long way from Japan. Though at this stage in his life On Kawara was living in New York and had only been to Japan once in fifteen years.


After that, On Kawara walked south out of Regent's Park, and, I suspect, picked up a bus or a taxi to 'VAUXHALL BRIDGE ROAD AND MILLBANK'. This part of his day's journey is implied by the 'I WENT' map but takes place outside its boundaries, so I'm not mapping it.

I imagine he went to the Tate Gallery as it is located on Millbank close to Vauxhall Bridge Road. The glorious Tate (this was before there was a Tate Modern as well as a Tate Britain) is where he would have seen a superb collection of primarily British art, including work by Francis Bacon, David Hockney and J.M.W. Turner. Though I've been told by Jonathan Watkins that when he knew On Kawara, from 1997 onwards, he did not express much interest in British artists.


I can imagine On Kawara suddenly getting tired at some point. After all, his day had begun in Paris and had been non-stop. So back to the hotel by a fairly direct route. Black taxi or red double-decker?


To be honest, I don't know if looping behind Paddington Station to get to Craven Hill Gardens was something that happened when going to the hotel earlier in the day or during this later trip. Perhaps going along Bayswater Road was to be avoided at certain times of the day. I don't know and it doesn't matter. There are always going to be ambiguities about the 'I WENT' maps. On Kawara wouldn't have had it any other way.

Let's put the whole map together again:


A busy day for On Kawara. Too busy to think about making a Date Painting. Indeed, as my 1977 essay shows, he didn't make any Date Paintings during this trip to Europe, which had taken in Paris and Brussels as well. And today I haven't had time to make one either. However, I do have time to do the next best thing, because that involves ten minutes work with the computer rather than five or six hours with paint and canvas.


The coincidence of '26' is fortunate. But it means that I might as well let it dictate the pace at which I write about the eight days that follow. One day at a time.


The 'I WENT' for the second day, is a lot simpler. On Kawara's first whole day in London was a rest from travelling. He didn't go far, and I reckon he could easily have walked everywhere he did go.

usejsdvttigohai8xow0025jq_thumb_e242 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Basically, On Kawara seems to have visited the Henry VIII Hotel at the end of his own Craven Hill Gardens (the small red marks at the bottom left of the map detail below) and then five more places on the way to the Lisson Gallery.

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

He walked along Craven Hill and Craven Road, stopping here and there, possibly at a post office and a bank. Having walked past the front of Paddington he would seem to have taken a quick look up London Mews.


But his only significant destination was the Lisson. This is confirmed by his 'I MET' list for the day which consists of the gallery owner and his wife and no-one else. Not even little Rory.

May 27, 1977
Nicholas Logsdail
Fiona Logsdail

The map shows two small red marks at 66-68 Bell Street whereas on the previous day there is only one. This suggests a more extensive exploration of the Lisson space. I've sourced this recent image of 66-68 Bell Street from an estate agent. Note that there is no door into 66 Bell Street and that the height of the windows is slightly different from the 66 block to the 68 block, with the former being higher.


Here is a historical photo showing the front of this building when it was run as a gallery. Again there is only a door into 68, and again the windows drop from 66 on the right, to 68 on the left.

94ooisjntia5ymle2rmawq_thumb_e27d Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder.

A little more Lisson history at this point, taken from the art press:


Nicholas Logsdail discusses how the name of the gallery was arrived at:


I think that makes sense.

This from The Art Newspaper adds to the picture:


These American names alone would have reassured On Kawara, as a conceptual artist looking to be shown in London, that he had come to the right place . So what if Konrad Fischer had financial links with Anthony d'Offay? Nicholas Logsdail was his man.

It suits me to suggest that on this second day of his week in London, On Kawara's solo show for spring of the next year was thought through. The artist would have been shown over the gallery spaces and the exhibition would have been put together in the listening minds of Logsdail and Kawara.

The invite card would turn out to be this:

3uf75wp6qrggbcxtmoilna_thumb_cfc8 Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder, Lisson Gallery.

The Date Paintings would be painted intermittently once On Kawara got back to New York, beginning in late June and ending at the close of the year.

They would be displayed in the small rooms of the gallery at a density of one, or at the most two, per wall.

unadjustednonraw_thumb_d2a6 unadjustednonraw_thumb_d2a7 r4oebhlkreqwnzv8tkgwsg_thumb_e282 Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder, Lisson Gallery.

What could be more stunningly simple! The Lisson does it again! The above images show six of the ten Date Paintings that were in the April 1978 show.

But I have got a little ahead of myself. Or at least I'm suggesting that On Kawara and Nicholas Logsdail spent the day listening closely to each other and thinking ahead to the show itself.

From the gallery, On, presumably with Nicholas and Fiona, walked to nearby Church Street, presumably for a meal. And after that, On returned to his hotel, crossing Edgware Road via an underpass, then retracing his footsteps of earlier in the day.

The person who could flesh out this narrative is Nicholas Logsdail. Alas, he has been involved with so many excellent projects and brilliant artists over the years that I cannot take if for granted that he will have time to revisit his engagement with On Kawara of 45 years ago. However, I remain hopeful that he might.

It should be recalled that Hiroko was known to be pregnant in the autumn of 1977 and On Kawara was painting most of his dates red, probably in celebration but just possibly on alert for danger. The above photos are in black and white, but NOV.8, NOV.12, NOV.18, NOV.23, DEC.8 and DEC.20 - those at the very least - were red.

So what follows below makes a lot of sense:



I haven't said much about 'I GOT UP AT' yet. Postcards were going to Helen Lewis in Los Angeles and Jurgen Wesseler in Bremhaven, Germany. Helen received cards from April to the end of June, but the May cards are not reproduced anywhere. Some of the cards to Jurgen Wesseler are reproduced online, but not May 26 or May 27, and only this poor repro for May 28. It shows teh Houses of Parliament from the air:

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

So On got up - in his hotel room at 34 Craven Hill Gardens - at 7.54 A.M. Did he have a busy day in front of him? Well, let's see.

Here is the 'I WENT' map for May 28, 1977.

aobt1j2qql002bqnz002bkqn8krg_thumb_e243 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Basically, after a short walk to Paddington, On Kawara's day involves two tube journeys. One by Bakerloo Line to Piccadilly Circus, which I'll come back to. But first (I assume) the Central line through Edgware Road to Baker Street, where On Kawara got off and walked to a place on Paddington Street.

But let's pause at Paddington Station. As the above map shows, there are two tube entrances marked in black. The main one, across the road from the southern end of the mainline station, is a fine old Victorian building signed 'METROPOLITAN RAILWAY'.


It's hard to get a photo from the Google archive that doesn't have a big red bus in front of it. So I stopped looking for one and have embraced the London double-decker. As iconic as the tube architecture. The Metropolitan, Circle, District and Hammersmith lines are all accessed by this entrance. So this is the entrance which On used to facilitate his short journey on the Circle line. Oh, and there is an unmissable postbox outside it. I dare say that's where he got rid of a few postcards as the week went on.

This short journey will be made twice more while in London, on May 30 and June 1. So I won't try and get to the bottom of it until then. Below is the journey I mean, presented as a Google Map:


I will just say for now that I don't think On Kawara went to this place to meet anyone, because the 'I MET' list for May, 28, consists of just one name and that is accounted for by the other, longer ride on the Bakerloo Line.

The entrance to the Bakerloo line is via a smaller, tiled building across the street from the 'METROPOLITAN RAILWAY' building. 'If ever lost,' I remember thinking in my London days, 'always look for the circular tube sign,' a red circle with the word 'UNDERGROUND' running through it.

. lcn6kcwys5mvz4bx73r4pw_thumb_e2f0

Actually (1), I think this beautiful, tile-covered building has just been knocked down so that the entrance could be modernised. I had to go back to 2017 in the archive to get free of the builders' hoardings.

Actually (2), you can surely join the Bakerloo Line from the building opposite as well. On occasion it would save you crossing a busy road. The tunnels go everywhere.

Let's regroup. While On buys a day's travel pass, we can take a look at the day's 'I MET':

May 28, 1977
Heinz Nigg

Heinz Nigg was the young man from Switzerland who On met in Bern during his solo show in 1974. Heinz then came and stayed with On and Hiroko in New York for a fortnight in November 1974, a time when he was cultivating artists on behalf of Kuntshalle Bern.

As recently as 2021, Heinz Nigg published a memoir. A chapter is devoted to the fortnight in New York, and a paragraph to his meeting On in London on May 28, 1977. The memoir is in German, but by pointing my phone at it, I learn the following:

May 28, 1977. 'On Kawara calls me. My friend from New York is visiting London. I'll meet you at the Royal Academy of the Arts. Afterwards, over lunch in an Italian restaurant on Maddox Street, we talk about his method of making art as an existential, individual act. I thank him again for the 86 I-Got-Up postcards he sent me from New York to Zurich in 1975. I tell him about my research on engaged arts and alternative media creation in London. I am pleased that On Kawara appreciates our way of creative work, the community arts.'

This makes my task of interpreting On's day almost too easy, but let's go through it anyway. I've marked the Bakerloo Line in brown as that is how it appears on official maps of the London Underground. As it happens, the course of the Bakerloo line is marked as a dotted line on the photocopied map that On Kawara was using for his 'I WENT'. The line travels under the Lisson Gallery on Bell Street and crosses under Baker Street quite close to 221B. I imagine Sherlock and Watson could hear it pass by underneath them:

Dr. Watson: "What was that, Holmes?"

Sherlock: "The rumble of a Bakerloo Line train that we hear no less than a hundred times a day, Watson."

Dr Watson: "Oh, yes. Sorry."


The Bakerloo Line then passes under Regent's Park before turning south. On Kawara got off at Piccadilly Circus.

The artist walked to the Royal Academy, whose Summer Show would have been in full swing. Exactly what an artist as committed and disciplined as On Kawara thought of the collected suburban-realism of the members of the Royal Academy, I wouldn't like to guess.

The 'I WENT' suggests that On and Heinz went back to Piccadilly on the way to the restaurant on Maddox Street. As we'll see, On Kawara would return to this restaurant later in the week.


And so the whole day can be mapped out as follows, returning us to On Kawara's 'I WENT' but with a little colour added.


On didn't visit the Lisson Gallery or see the Logsdails on May 28. In that sense it was a day off. But the meeting with Heinz Nigg does link in to his activities the following day, as we'll see. But let's leave it here for now. Where for now? Right here:



First, the postcard to Germany registering that On was still getting up early. Though he wouldn't have been able to hear Big Ben from where he slept.

8yigf2yltf2cyrhccyg9mg_mini_e2ed Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

This was to be his first truly sociable day as can be gathered from the 'I MET'.

May 29, 1977
Fiona Logsdail
Nicholas Logsdail
Rory Logsdail
Richard Cork
Vena Cork
Stephen Willats
Felicity Willats
Adam Cork
Polly Cork
Heinz Nigg

Everyone he's met in London so far, plus the Cork family and Stephen Willats and his first wife.

At this time, Stephen Willats was an artist represented by Nicholas Logsdail. And Richard Cork wrote about art for the Evening Standard. However, the Heinz Nigg memoir tells me, even though it's in German, about some of the deeper connections between these people. When Heinz first came to London on 10 August 1976, he made contact with Stephen Willats because of the community art that Willats was involved with, and because of the Control Magazine that he was publishing. Heinz writes about meeting Stephen as soon as he arrived, and staying with him while he looked for a flat. Moreover, as early as 25 August 1976, Heinz mentions setting up a meeting with Richard Cork in the latter's role as editor of Studio International. Quite a networker was Heinz Nigg. Apparently, he was a working class guy, but that is not how working class guys from Britain behaved in the 1970s. His Swiss upbringing may account for his ability to hold the attention of such accomplished, slightly older people.

So does that mean there was one large party that On Kawara attended? And if so where was that? Let's turn to 'I WENT' which seems to take us off in two near-opposite directions, north-west and south.

1obk5emktkytfvounfyjmq_thumb_e244 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Bearing in mind that 'I MET' lists the people that On Kawara met in the order that he met them, it seems that On walked to Paddington, entered the large tube building called 'METROPOLITAN RAILWAY' and took the Circle Line one stop to Edgware Road.

0c002bnuuxfty6murelkfckaa_thumb_e29d Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Actually, it must have been the Bakerloo line he took, but accessed from the 'METROPOLITAN RAILWAY' building. Because where he emerged, at the junction of the Marylebone flyover and Edgware Road, was certainly the Bakerloo Line exit.


What an iconic building! Really, I did not pay enough attention to the Victorian tube station design aesthetic when I Iived in London. The large, shiny tiles, the arched windows, the intense blue fill of the signage…

And from there On walked to the Lisson and hooked up with the Logsdails. Together, they travelled by bus/taxi/car north and west, off the map, to 'CHEVENING ROAD AND KINGSWOOD AVENUE'. These two roads intersect (see the black, artist's palette symbol near the top edge of the map). And not far away from that intersection is 24 Milman Road, which I note from the Internet was Richard Cork's address, at least it was in 2008.


Given that there are four Corks on the 'I MET' list, it seems reasonable to assume that it was at the Cork household that the Sunday get together took place. Stephen Willats and his wife lived, or at least worked, further out west. In spring of 1978, Richard Cork would curate a show at the Serpentine Gallery, 'to explore recent attempts to relate art to questions of social concern,' says the booklet, Art For Whom? Actually, Art For Who? Would sound more natural and inclusive. But Richard Cork studied Art History at Cambridge and would be minded to stick to the formal rules of grammar for all his well-rounded intelligence.

Stephen Willats would be one of the artists in this show, and in Art For Whom? Richard Cork tells us about 'The Perivale Project'. The specific work to be exhibited was called From a Coded World. Through fieldwork undertaken in the spring of 1977, Willats got residents of West London to study Problem Display Boards which were set up by agreement in people's gardens. The Response Sheets were then collated and the results presented on a Public Register at Perivale Library. I'll just mark where Perivale Library and Empire Road, Perivale (near Wembley) is in relation to where the party was taking place and in relation to On Kawara's 'I WENT' pro forma map.


Right at the left edge of the above map, marked with a green pin, is Hayes, where another Stephen Willats work was researched, and which appeared as part of his solo show, 'Questions About Ourselves' at Lisson in March of 1978, just before the Serpentine show. In other words, this little group of people were deeply interconnected.

Now for various reasons, I don't think Heinz Nigg was of the party, though I could just as easily be wrong about that. His diary entry for May 29, 1977, reads:

'I am working in our studio on the transcript of the tape recordings of our last session. Ken looks into the text and says: "It reads like "theaterstück!".

So there was no mention of any Sunday afternoon party with people whose work meant a great deal to him. Here is an earlier diary entry of Nigg's from April 7, 1976:

'I am visiting the artist Stephen Willats in Perivale, a neighbourhood in west London. I know Steve from my first visit to London. He, too, works with people in an urban context. His project is called From a Coded World. Perivale, 1977. He documents how people perceive their neighbourhood. He does interviews and creates photo-text panels, which he then exhibits. Exciting. We stay in touch. Steve's approach is very different from what we're doing in Kensal New Town. His work is more abstract, sociological and is exhibited and sold in traditional art contexts such as galleries and museums.'

Richard Cork was obviously much taken by this type of socially engaged work. At one point in his Serpentine essay Cork says: 'With the help of our three-year-old son, who enjoyed acting out his postman fantasies, my wife and I formed one of the door-to-door teams. We began late one cold March evening, wondering who on earth was going to express an interest in our invitation to take part in an art work.'

That cold March evening would have been just two months before the Sunday get-together in May which On Kawara was part of.

I suggest that the 3-year-old son was Adam Cork and that he would have been company for Rory Logsdail at the party. Who would On Kawara have been speaking with? Well, given that he had been listening to Heinz Nigg describing his own version of socially engaged work the previous day, I don't think On would have had any difficulty showing an interest in what was being talked about at the party.

No doubt Nicholas Logsdail would have helped him by explaining the nature of the photo-text panels and describing how they would be installed in the gallery spaces that On now knew so well. For example, a photo of an elderly woman in a high-rise. Elsewhere on the panel, a sentence of text explaining that she feels she needs strategies to get to know more people. The viewer is invited into the conversation through simple questions, again single lines of text.

I imagine this scenario over lunch:

Nicholas Logsdail (urbanely): "Perhaps what she really needs is a Date Painting workshop."

On Kawara (smoothly): "But who is going to run one of those?"

Nicholas Logsdail: "Stephen might, if you were able to give him a few helpful hints."

I think it is admirable to be like Nicholas Logsdail or, indeed, Heinz Nigg or Richard Cork. That is, to appreciate existential, individual work, on the one hand, and socially engaged work on the other.

At some point in the day, On was driven back to London and then got on the Bakerloo Line to go further into the centre of the capital.

Dr. Watson: "What on earth is that horrible rumbling noise, Holmes?"

Sherlock: "Really, Watson!"

Dr Watson: "Oh, of course. I keep forgetting. Forgive me!"

I believe On was going to visit Heinz Nigg, who remarks in the 1976 chapter of his book that his London lodgings were in Brixton. However, it seems that On got off at Oxford Street long enough to walk to somewhere on New Bond Street.

bwcjzikts3g4qcww5vephw_thumb_e29e Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

The two faint red marks at the junction of Oxford Street and Regent Street, to the right of his red route, would seem to be made by On, but are not consistent with the continuous line system. Anyway, they mark two of the places where people disappear from the street down a stairway, or suddenly appear from the bowels of the earth. There is no Oxford Circus station as such, not above ground.


On emerges from the tube here. Perhaps he was getting something to eat. His route took him along Maddox Street where he'd eaten with Nigg the day before. Indeed it's possible that he was meeting Nigg there for a meal before going back with him to his flat.

Back to Oxford Circus to get on the Victoria Line this time. According to On's map, that line sweeps through the middle of Buckingham Palace. Well, so it might, albeit underground.

xh5ylae5tm28bguqppa002b002bq_thumb_e2a4 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

'BANKSOME ROAD AND HAYTER ROAD' it says along the bottom of the above 'I WENT' map. Heinz Nigg lived at 89 Hayter Road which is no doubt (I haven't checked) near the junction with Banksome Road. I guess that On Kawara would have been updating Heinz with what was said at the party. Perhaps Heinz still had hopes of being one of the artists that would be included in the Serpentine show, though he did distance himself from artists who exhibited in galleries or museums in that diary entry I quoted earlier. But in any case, he would have wanted an update on Stephen Willats' work and Richard Cork's thoughts on it all.

The double arrow at the bottom of the map tells us that On travelled back the way he had come, within the day. Though maybe it was only at this stage that he got off at Oxford Circus and made his way to New Bond Street for a meal.

End of a long day. I don't mean On's, I mean my own. Let's put it this way:


Are any readers still with me? This is a funny sort of art writing, is it not? Rat-arsed research combined with fatuous fiction. Nothing could be more up my street. I am loving this, and not just because I have privileged information as to where it is going. For now, I will leave you with this book cover, which I should say that I've embellished with the day's I MET list:

7lquewohtdwvord9aolsia_thumb_e323 Reproduced and doctored with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder.

Not included in the above title's red list of artists' projects is Heinz Nigg's socially engaged project in Kensal New Town. Young Heinz (on the left, in the annotated book cover below) has asked the elderly Kensal Town inhabitant what it was that motivated him to get up that morning from his high-rise flat and to explore the city streets below. And the answer…

kgymp4ahshgkswepqk2myw_thumb_e324 Reproduced and doctored with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder.

…was that the old man loved to collect artists' ephemera. Would Heinz like to donate a little something?


At last, a half-decent reproduction of a postcard The Houses of Parliament again:

kqbrezbbrkiw8nj2oabmxq_thumb_e2de Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Point of information: On did not go near the Houses of Parliament all week, though they and Big Ben feature on several of the cards. This part of London is not even on his pro forma map.

On's movements on Monday, May 30, echo his movements on the Saturday, when he first met Heinz Nigg. Only on this day, as we'll see, On didn't meet Heinz but somebody else. Anyway, here is the raw 'I WENT':

oeqavsdkriuq00253whhsosoq_thumb_dc63 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

May 30, 1977, is the single 'I WENT' from On's time in London that I had access to before getting in touch with the University of Michigan. So I've already done some work on it for the 1977 essay. Which means I might as well use the detailed maps I made then. The one below shows On's walk local to the hotel, the second of three trips - for a mysterious reason - to an unknown destination in Paddington Street. And a Bakerloo tube ride to Oxford Circus for a walk around Piccadilly.

9esaxlkqt0025ol5nyqhul1cq_thumb_dc6e Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

When considering these movements I should also bear in mind that 'I MET' for the day contains just one name:

May 30, 1977
Ian Frain

I do not know who this man is. I suspect he is not of the art world, as nothing comes up when I Google him. He might be someone connected to the hotel. He might be someone who lived in Paddington Street but who was out when On Kawara first called on him. He might be a gentleman who approached On out of the blue on Piccadilly and complimented him on the cut of his jib. On meets him again on June 2, so let's leave further pondering until then.

For now, let's redo the walk that On made once he emerged from Oxford Circus tube station having taken, once again, the Bakerloo Line from Paddington.

He may have enjoyed walking down wide Regent Street, flanked with elegant, five-floored buildings. Just as I did in the 1990s. Just as Sherlock and Watson would have done in the 1890s.


As I mention in the 1977 essay, On does not seem to have taken the opportunity to pop into the Anthony d'Offay Gallery, on Dering Street, as I certainly would have done, to see shows by Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol, and so many others. Which presumably means there was nothing of interest showing. But he did seem to venture into a shop on the left side of Regent's Street, before turning right into Maddox Street. Now Maddox Street is where Heinz Nigg states that he ate with On after meeting him at the Royal Academy on the Saturday, so On Kawara may have returned to this area in order to consolidate his mental map of London, which would still have been underdeveloped.

rqz5hogxsd002bizemnzd7uxq_thumb_e2a8 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

As the above shows, he did go into a building in the same part of Maddox Street as on the 28th, so perhaps he ate there again, possibly towards the end of what would be a circular journey. So let's carry on for now. After Maddox Street, On walked down New Bond Street, Old Bond Street and onto Piccadilly (he may have gone the other way around, of course, but it comes to the same thing). This part of London has many traditional galleries. The Lisson was not located here, because it was newer and altogether more cutting-edge than anything that On Kawara would find in this part of town, which is expensive and conservative.

On walked along Piccadilly until he was more or less opposite the Royal Academy. But he wouldn't be going in there again. One glance at the Summer Exhibition had surely been enough to last him a lifetime.


Then On turned round and explored Piccadilly, the other way, walking past the Ritz and stopping when he had Green Park to look at on his right. This kind of behaviour suggests he was on his own, trying to get his bearings.

Have I missed anything? Well, he did seem to go into two buildings in the same block. Let me zero in on that. First, half way along Berkeley Street. I imagine he went into a gallery that caught his eye. But I doubt if it would have held his attention for long.


Around the corner, on Piccadilly again, it may have been a coffee he stopped for. Looking out at those members of the upper-classes going into and coming out of the Ritz on the other side of the road.


Let me stop here for a coffee as well. It might help.

Dr Watson: "Ian Frain. Ian Frain. Ian Frain. We can't seem to find a trace of him. Who is this mysterious man, Holmes? "

Sherlock: "I don't know, Watson."

Dr Watson: "But you'll be able to work it out, won't you?"

Sherlock: "Not sure, Watson. Not feeling at my sharpest today. A fog such as seems to engulf this London of ours from November through February, has settled on my brain."

Dr. Watson: "When we get home you can treat yourself to something stronger than coffee."


Dr. Watson: "When we get home, we'll open a bottle of brandy. Eh, Holmes?"

Sherlock: "Oh, for God's sake, Watson, will you let a man concentrate? I need QUIET to think. Not your endless prattle."

Dr Watson sighs audibly and with a hint of exasperation, but does not utter another word.



pvhvp5cjtc21gezybwgwzw_thumb_e2df Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

For only the second time of this London week, I feel it's appropriate to present the 'I MET' list before the 'I WENT' map. In this case I can show the actual 'I MET' which is reproduced in Phaidon's On Kawara book, published in 2002. When Art Gallery Ontario supplied me with the other 'I MET' lists recently, they did that by retyping out the information, not be reproducing On Kawara's exact form of expression, no doubt with copyright considerations in mind. Anyway, here goes:

tijd1pa7rzgzibpeb7w7qa_thumb_cfc3 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Bob Law was a minimalist painter, represented by the Lisson, and Gina was his wife. Michael Compton and Richard Morphet worked at the Tate, Compton as a curator and Morphet as a writer, though Compton also wrote. Norman Rosenthal, at this stage in his career, had just left his job as curator at the ICA and had become Head of Exhibitions at the Royal Academy. A place he would turn around, but not until his first show there in 1978. Suzi Gablik was an American writer, living in London, the wife of John Russell, art critic for The Times. And Mark Lancaster was a British artist who'd been both the inaugural artist-in-residence at Cambridge University, and had hung out for several weeks with Andy Warhol at the Factory in New York.

Surely this list is evidence of Nicholas Logsdail doing an important aspect of his job extremely well, by introducing his new artist to a network of highly creative influencers. I did wonder if those on the list had all been at a dinner party. But a study of the 'I WENT' suggests otherwise.

Below is the 'I WENT' for Mar, 31. Salient points to look out for are as follows.

1) On did not call in at the Lisson Gallery, even though he met the Logsdails.

2) He departed the I WENT pro forma for three different destinations in the one day.

v3i6q3atq66qzuq74bv0dw_thumb_e245 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

A scrutiny of the map suggests On went to and from 'WHITECHAPEL HIGH STREET AND DAVENANT STREET'.

He also went to and from 'MILLBANK AND ATTERLEY AVENUE'.

However, he only took a one-way trip north off the edge of the map to 'ROYAL COLLEGE ST. AND RANDOLPH ST.' Which means he stayed there overnight, or at least until after midnight. Sure enough, the next 'I WENT' map shows an arrow coming back into the map from 'ROYAL COLLEGE ST. AND RANDOLPH ST.'

When On went off the map, he tended to use two street names to define where he'd gone. Surely he would have gone to the Whitechapel Art Gallery on Whitechapel High Street, as it was showing a show of photographs by Keith Arnatt, conceptual artist, as well as a show by the enigmatic Austrian artist, Walter Pichler. And I think he made a second visit to the Tate. Which place did he visit first? Where did he meet those powerful members of the art world that are on the I MET list?

The key to where he went first, lies in taking a close look at his movements from the hotel.

18ituki2qr2rhwemknsxiw_thumb_e2b0 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

He either walked to Paddington and got a tube to Whitechapel. Or he walked to Bayswater Road and got a bus/taxi to the Tate. He must have done the former, because it was on the way back from the Tate that he carried on north to Royal College Street/Randolph Street.

First, to Whitechapel then. I assume On met Nicholas and Fiona Logsdail there. Perhaps he was introduced to Bob and Gina Law then as well. Bob would get a retrospective at Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1978. And he had a solo show at Lisson in 1982. Heady days for the now largely forgotten Bob Law. It may be that Nicholas Logsdail wanted Bob Law and On Kawara to meet, after all this next image shows a piece of work by him. A date painting, no less. And no more.

bi0025kt9hbsasdzpaa8amq9a_thumb_e2d8 Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder, the Estate of Bob Law.

Although Law and Kawara were dealing with the same formal elements. (No image. Monochrome. Just the date that the painting was made.) The one puts emphasis on pictorial space while the other is meditating about consciousness and the passing of time. Bob Law's work is generous towards the viewer. That's how it strikes me, anyway. Though I feel that many other viewers, especially in the 1970s, would feel that they were being short-changed.

80025y3tmgjtlot4cjnyzxpxg_thumb_e2da Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder, the Estate of Bob Law.

Meanwhile, if the meeting did take place at the Whitechapel, there were 28 photographs by Keith Arnatt, titled 'Looking At Me', all of dog owners and their dogs looking straight into Arnatt's camera lens. A formal and unnatural pose that the artist achieved by shouting the dog's name as he took the picture, having first warned the dog owner not to look at the dog as its name was shouted.

e8edizokqkw21qcehmhmcq_thumb_e2b6 Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder, the Estate of Keith Arnatt.

How very English, On may have thought. About Keith Arnatt and Bob Law, both. For Bob was a British minimalist, and a loner, and not like Robert Ryman, Carl Andre, Mark Rothko, etc. who were part of a movement that had blossomed in New York.

Lunch somewhere in Davenant Street (perhaps), then On returned alone to his hotel for a rest. I think he did, anyway. He could have gone straight from the Whitechapel to the Tate, but the 'I WENT' map shows that he did not. Instead, in due course, he got a taxi or a bus from his Craven Hill Gardens hotel, and made his way to the Tate. Now the Tate at this time did not really do special exhibitions. Though it would soon be the job of Michael Compton (see the day's I MET list) to start up such large exhibitions to rake in the money. In the summer of 1977, Michael Compton was a selector for the Hayward Annual, but he couldn't have spoken to On Kawara about it, or at least On did not visit the South Bank while he was in London.

What else about Michael Compton?


As for his colleague, Richard Morphet, he wrote introductions to the work of certain of the artists that were in the Tate's collection. He wrote a book called British Painting, 1910 to 1945, for example. And books on Howard Hodgkin and Richard Hamilton. But he knew his American stuff as well, providing intros for books, or monographs, on Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Claes Oldenburg.

Of course, it's possible that On Kawara was introduced to these Top Tates while they visited the Whitechapel. But it's more likely, in my opinion, that Nicholas Logsdail wanted to draw their attention to this wonderful new artist of the Lisson's on their home territory. Richard Morphet and Michael Compton would have known exactly who On Kawara was, via the solo show at the Pompidou Centre or the groundbreaking show at Kunsthalle Bern, for example. But they would have been very interested to talk to him, to get his measure, as it were, especially as On Kawara did not make official statements about his work or allow his image to be used in publications.

At what stage of the day was Norman Rosenthal met? He may have been swopping notes with the Tate curators at Whitechapel. Or he may have been part of the hypothetical meeting set up at the Tate itself. Rosenthal had wide sympathies, though particularly with German artists. He was a great admirer of Joseph Beuys. Apparently, Beuys once asked him for three blackboards and Rosenthal found him 100, all of which were used in a piece now to be seen in Berlin. In the online article I took that anecdote from, the interviewer, Alain Elkann, goes on to ask:

6ro1qqtyqmmlrxsijpt35g_thumb_e2c7 Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder.

I would say the same about On Kawara. A political figure. Representing privacy, resolve and commitment to his subject: human time. So why not the three artists of their generation? Eh, Norman? The twinkle in Norman Rosenthal's eye becomes laser-sharp as he wonders whether to take me seriously.

After leaving the Tate, On took a bus to Royal College Street/Randolph Street. That junction is not far off the northern edge of his 'I WENT' map, in Camden. In fact, let me just summarise in very broad terms his movements for the day. First the red line to and from Whitechapel. Then the blue line to the Tate and then north to whatever awaited him there.


I haven't been able to work out who lived on - or adjacent to - Royal College Street, and who may have hosted this evening event. Perhaps someone that had already been met that day. On Kawara remained at it until about midnight, and when he returned to central London he stopped at the Lisson, so I presume that he had been sharing transport with Nicholas Logsdail, or both the Logsdails.

At this party, let's say On Kawara met Suzi Gablik (penultimate name on the day's 'I MET' list). She wrote about the art world but in a more philosophical way than is common. Her book Progress in Art, published in 1977, asks the question as to whether art evolves and gets more complex over the centuries, or whether one enthusiasm merely replaces another. Was Picasso more deeply engaged in art than Michael Angelo? Subsequent books by Gablik have titles Has Modernism Failed? and The Re-enchantment of Art. Basically, she got disenchanted with the male, careerist attitude that she observed in the 1970s and 80s and decided that a more feminine and co-operative approach to art was needed. Would she have categorised On Kawara as a typical, 'A' list, male artist? His name does not crop up in Has Modernism Failed?, which dropped through my letterbox this morning. Instead, it mentions positively Richard Cork's Art For Whom? show, and regularly references Andy Warhol in an insightful, funny and critical way. Page 40: 'Sameness, boredom and, above all, repetition are what , for Warhol, express the structures and modulations of consciousness - so we should not be astonished to learn that he once owned eight cats all named Sam.'

While in London, Suzi Gablik wrote for art magazines along with her well-connected husband. She seems to have known the last person on On's 'I MET' list, Mark Lancaster, the English artist who had spent time in New York, first with Andy Warhol and then connecting with many of America's most famous painters of the day. There is a long interview that Gablik gave for an oral archive and she mentions Lancaster at one point:


That gives a flavour of the interview. Everyone is an artist. Everyone is having affairs with everyone else. Though there is a fluent discussion of ideas as well, so I'm not knocking it.

Mark Lancaster also gets a mention in Has Modernism Failed? And I get the impression that he was someone she knocked about with. I suspect Suzi Gablik would have known everyone that On Kawara met on May 31, 1977, and would have had her own opinion about them.


I have to admit that On Kawara may have met all the people he MET in either the Whitechapel, the Tate or at the evening rendezvous in North London. And who the significant conversations were with, if there were any significant conversations, would have largely been decided by chance. A quick introduction, with little more than an exchange of names, before being moved on? Or a long discussion resulting from being stood head-to-head in the vicinity of the person for more than a few minutes?


Just before midnight, On Kawara left the Camden party with Nicholas Logsdail. I think that must be what happened as there is no-one else (except Fiona Logsdail) from the I MET list of 'MAY 31' that features on the 'I MET' List for June 1.

Have I got time to fake another Date Painting? I should really go straight into the next day.

Oh, but of course I've got time. These are vital markers of this essay's progress:



I've marked in black those parts of 'I WENT' from June 1 that I believe took place shortly after midnight. When On got to the Logsdails' place on Bell Street, there was no need to stay the night, as his own hotel room was within walking distance. So the top half of the black line was a journey made by car or taxi and the bottom half was On walking.


We know that On did go back to his hotel that night because the postcard that he sent on the morning of June 1 states that his address was 34 Craven Hill Gardens. This was sent to Helen Lewis in Los Angeles. Her June cards were photographed as a group when they were put up for sale in 2021 by Larkin Erdmann. The following photo is an enlargement of the first three cards of the month. Two message sides and one photo. It will have to do.

zhlnw0025owqhydgwcqr0025cqoq_thumb_db8b Reproduced thanks to Larkin Erdmann.

We know from On's time in New York, where he had many places he could stay overnight, that he would always reflect this information accurately in the addresses he used on his 'I GOT UP AT' postcards.

But in case that night journey outlined in black is confusing in itself, here is the whole 'I WENT' for June 1 in its original form.

gg1b002bt3hsfov11km00256ygtw_thumb_e246 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

I am going to divide the rest of the day into two journeys:

1) On's third and last trip to Paddington Street.

2) On's interaction with the Logsdail family around the Lisson Gallery.

First, Paddington Street. You can see that On has walked from the hotel to Paddington Station and taken a Circle Line through Edgware Road to Baker Street as he's done twice before. So now let's look closely at what's there in 2022, courtesy of Google.

Flats above a row of shops. As On didn't meet anybody on any of the three occasions, he must have gone into a shop. These days they are an estate agent, a café, a nail bar, a shoemaker and a betting shop.


Let's take a closer look at the shoe-shop.


Shoemakers since 1857? Sherlock and Watson could have bought their boots from this place! Let's dip into the website:


I feel sure that's it. On Kawara would have been drawn to the meticulous craftsmanship on offer. I remember as a child buying a pair of Bata shoes where the sole pattern was comprised of the footprints of various wild animals such fox and badger. Perhaps On was hoping to persuade the master shoe-maker to design soles that would print the date every time their wearer stepped in snow or ash or mud or dust. But how would such a rubber stamp-effect be achieved? I mean, what could the cobbler do to ensure the date was accurate, day after day?

Watson: "Sorry to interrupt your thoughts, Holmes, but who is Ian Frain?"

Sherlock: "It's not yet time to try and answer that question. For the moment I am resting on my laurels. You need to understand, Watson, that the little victories need to be celebrated to the full. Only an idiot tries to hop from mountain top to mountain top in boots that have been designed to print the date accurately and legibly into the yielding earth."

Watson: "Pardon?"

Sherlock: "Take a deep breath, Watson. Savour the smell of success."

Watson: "Actually, a telegram has just arrived. I think you had better read it."

Dear Mr. Holmes, Sorry I can find no record of him. It takes some months to make a pair of shoes so I guess he may have visited the workshop but not had shoes made. Kind regards,

Steve Robinson
Managing Director
James Taylor & Son

Sherlock crumples the telegram up into a ball and throws it across the room and out of the first-floor window where it falls like a stone onto Baker Street.

I need to look more closely at the three maps. So let's do that.

First, May 28, 1977:


I would say that was exactly 4 Paddington Street.

Second, May 30, 1977:


That is more like 10 Paddington Street. The entry to a shop comes between the T and the R of STR. rather than after the R of STR. Either the second visit to the shoe shop, rendered carelessly. Or a second trip to Paddington Street but to check out another purveyor of goods.

Third, June 1, 1977:


Again, the red mark is between the T and the R of STR., though favouring the T. A third visit to the shoemakers, including a look inside the workshop, but rendered carelessly? Or a second visit to whatever business was visited on May 30? And a venture into the shop on the opposite side of the street for good measure? I have to admit that the possibilities are endless.

Watson: "Speak to me Holmes. You have been sunk in a reverie for hours."

Sherlock: "Leave me to my tortured eyes and my broken magnifying glass, Watson. I will be myself again in the morning."

Watson: "I fear there is not a moment to lose. We have hours not days at our disposal. I urge you to get back on the case right now."

Sherlock stirs. He stirs again. And blood flows again to his brain.

OK, I'm back in the room. Let's get back on On Kawara's trail.

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

On made his way back to Marylebone and then went into Baker Street Station. Because the course of the Bakerloo Line is marked on his pro forma, he knew he could draw a red line (from Marylebone Road running east-west to Baker Street running north-south) to where he got onto the train going west and north. In effect, he mapped his walk through the tube station to the platform.


On travelled one stop to the Edgware Road entrance of the Bakerloo Line at Edgware Road station, then walked along Bell Street to the Lisson. The day's 'I MET' reads as follows:

June 1, 1977
Nicholas Logsdail
Fiona Logsdail
Rory Logsdail
Duart McLean

Who was Duart McLean? Well, Fiona Logsdail's maiden name was McLean so I'm assuming that Duart was her brother, or her father. It would seem that On and the Logsdail family went for a meal on Church Street. And after that On walked back to his hotel. Something like the map below is a summary of his movement since doing whatever he did in Paddington Street.


And something like this is as summary of his total movements on JUNE 1, 1977, the equivalent to his 'I WENT' for the day.


Now I have a surprise for you, dear reader. This really is APR.1,2022 and this really is a Date Painting.


You will be telling me that this is an April Fool tease. But it's not. The painting was begun TODAY, and TODAY it has been finished and photographed. But that's OK, for there is a new day coming.


I don't know what time On Kawara got up on June 2 because the I GOT UP postcard he sent to Helen Lewis is displayed with the picture side visible. It shows a troop of mounted horse guards outside Buckingham Palace.

What about the 'I WENT' map? It shows that On didn't go far on this his last whole day in London. (The following morning he would be up at 5.13 A.M. and be on his way to the airport, meeting no-one.)

zaecajq1sfuhudip59o2xw_thumb_e2e8 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

On didn't go the the British Museum or the National Gallery in his eight-day stay. Which makes me think this was not his first visit to London. He may have been to these places when he travelled to Europe in 1964. On the other hand, when you've been to these places once, you find yourself wanting to go again. There are four van Goghs, several Rembrandts, and limitless riches in the National Gallery. I don't understand how On Kawara could have kept away from that place in May/June 1977. But he did.

Here is the 'I MET' for that day.

June 2, 1977
Ian Frain

This is the second time that On Kawara met a single person other than Heinz Nigg, and that person was again Ian Frain. On this occasion, On must have met him close to the hotel. So it's perhaps worth seeing if there is an overlap between his stops on June 2:


And those on May 30:


Apart from the hotel itself on Craven Hill Gardens, the only stop in common is the one just before Spring Street, just before arriving at Paddington Station. Google Street View shows three cafés or restaurants in a row.


Let's assume that On Kawara was sitting at a table outside a café when he was joined by Ian Frain by prior arrangement. Let's say Ian was a friend of On Kawara's, not of the art world but someone who was curious about it. Not an artist himself but a consumer of art and curious to know more about the context in which it was made. Ian wanted to know where On had been and who he'd met since they'd last spoken three days before.

So On told him about Tuesday at the Whitechapel, the Tate and at the party. He told him about a conversation with the Logsdails and the Laws, a conversation with the Tate curators and Norman Rosenthal, and his party chatter.

"Andy Warhol's name kept cropping up. The English seem to be obsessed with him still."


"I have gathered that if Andy senses that someone is uncomfortable in his own skin, as he is himself, then he will offer to paint their portrait. But only if the person sits naked for the picture. This was brought up early in the day and had turned into a joke by the evening. Mark Lancaster stripped down to his underpants and ran around the room shouting "Paint me, Andy, paint me!"

"Quite funny. Did anyone ask what you thought of Warhol?"

"No. By and large they were out to impress me with their own knowledge."

"What do you think of Warhol's work?"

"It was morbid. He had a fascination with death. I think that may be why so many commentators couple him with Joseph Beuys, whose work is about healing and the preservation of life. Andy is obsessed with - and is afraid of - dying. Those electric chairs of his. Those crashed cars. Those skulls."

"Warhol and Beuys. Life and death. Or, rather, death and life. But then the screen prints Warhol made of actors and actresses. That famous portrait of Marilyn Monroe that provides the cover for so many books…"

"Have you ever really looked at it?"

"Possibly not."

"The skin looks like that of a corpse. "

"Poor Marilyn."

"Poor Andy. But I have to say that other people seem to get a thrill out of his world view. By the end of the evening, a game was being played in which if you spoke, you had to say something that Andy might say."

"Can you remember any examples?"

"Let's see… 'Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art, and good business is the best art.'"

"Who said that?"

"Nicholas Logsdail. Then there was: 'Cash. I am just not happy when I don't have it. The minute I have it I have to spend it. And I just buy stupid things.'"

"Who said that?"

"Nicholas again. I was standing beside him, so it was easier for me to hear what he was saying that some of the others. However, I did hear Suzi Gablik say: 'Why do people think artists are special? It's just another job. If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There's nothing behind it.' Being from New York, she got the accent just right, and everyone laughed. Then Nicholas brought the game to an end when he said something like: 'To be successful as an artist you have to have your work shown in a good gallery for the same reason that Dior never sold his originals from a counter in Woolworth's. A good gallery looks out for the artist, promotes him and sees to it that his work is shown in the right way to the right people. No matter how good you are, if you're not promoted right you won't be one of the remembered names.'"

"I can imagine Nicholas Logsdail saying that as himself."

"Ha! Yes, he didn't attempt the accent."

"But I guess those were Andy Warhol's words."

"Andy can be astute. The dumb blonde pose is as artificial as Marilyn's was."

When they finish their coffee and rise to leave. Ian asks On if he has enjoyed his week in London. On assures him that he has, but that he prefers New York. He prefers The Factory to the Royal Academy. He prefers the Empire State Building to Buckingham Palace. And he prefers the Guggenheim to the Tate. Having said that, the Lisson Gallery is just his kind of place and its enterprising presence here means that he will certainly be back.

With a smile and a bow, On Kawara takes leave of his friend and walks slowly back to his hotel room. Time to pack.

Part 2 of this story can now be read here


Not much happened and it was a long, long time ago. However, If any of the following have anything to add to the story of On Kawara in London in 1977, I'd gladly incorporate their information in the above essay, either as additions/corrections or as postscript:

Nicholas Logsdail Fiona Logsdail Rory Logsdail Richard Cork Vena Cork Adam Cork Polly Cork Stephen Willats Felicity Willats Ian Frain Heinz Nigg Gina Law Richard Morphet Norman Rosenthal

I cannot expect to hear from the sadly departed. Actually, I don't expect to hear from the living or the dead. But I live - one day at a time - in hope.

If you are in touch with any of the above individuals, please consider forwarding them the link to this essay. Thanks for your attention.


January, 2024. Heinz Nigg has been in touch. He tells me:

'I have been delighted to read about your experience of following On Kawara in London. Thanks to your research, I discovered that I had met On Kawara twice in London. I had forgotten about his visit to 89 Hayter Road in Brixton, where I was conducting my ethnographic study of the community art movement in London and other parts of the UK from 1976 to 1979. My links with the Conceptual- and Minimal-art scene in London were fading, and other influential figures, notably John 'Hoppy' Hopkins of the Fantasy Factory, were becoming important to me. Unfortunately I never met On Kawara again, but he remains a central figure in my life.'

So Heinz remembered the first meeting with On Kawara on May 28, 1977, which is recorded in his diary, but not the second a day later, which isn't so recorded. Which just shows the value of a diary as an aide memoire. And it shows the value of an 'I MET' list and an 'I WENT' map likewise. I followed up Heinz's reply by asking him if he'd been at the Sunday afternoon party with Stephen Willats, Richard Cork and Nicholas Logsdail, even though his diary hadn't mentioned it. He replied:

'I don't remember. Probably not. I liked Richard Cork. He was very open about the revolution in art.

'Two years ago I had dinner with Stephan Willats when he had his big show in the Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Zurich. I was surprised how well his art has developed over the years.

'He was a great lover of punk music when I met him in 1976. He collected all the records he could get hold off. And also some of his work now is full of punk.'

All of which is great and generous. Now I'm waiting for Logsdail to get in touch. Over my crossed fingers.