The authors of this report reading as performance art. (Photo by Joe Vitale/New York Observer)

What It’s Like to Read Dates for On Kawara’s ‘One Million Years’ at the Guggenheim

Today, the first full retrospective of the late conceptual art master On Kawara opens at the Guggenheim, gifting the city with a sprawling and dynamic—by turns profound, witty, swaggering, petty, neurotic, precise, and blissful—examination of time itself. The Guggenheim’s iconic spiral ramp is lined with Kawara’s date paintings, day after day, year after year, in addition to other documentary projects that charted his habits, wanderings, and thoughts. We took it all in, and it’s a joy to see all these different parts of his practice put together: massive date paintings completed in the days leading up to the moon landing, his obsessive daily postcards to John Baldessari and Dan Graham that say nothing but the time he woke up, maps of cities marked with the paths he walked, the lists of people he hung out with on a certain day, and his final works proclaiming “I AM STILL ALIVE,” until he stopped proclaiming that, because he wasn’t.

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