Foyer Installation: On Kawara

May 8 – Sep 15, 2024
Main Building

Moon Landing, 1969, a trio of “Date Paintings” by Japanese-born Conceptual artist On Kawara (1932–2014), is on view at the Menil Collection as a special loan from Glenstone Museum, Potomac, Maryland.

Each canvas is inscribed with an important date related to the United States’ Apollo 11 lunar landing that put the first humans on the Moon: mission launch (July 16, 1969), landing of the module (July 20, 1969), and departure from the Moon (July 21, 1969). Kawara’s Today series, begun in 1966 and continued until the year before the artist’s death in 2014, comprises nearly 3,000 works that each feature a date meticulously painted in a white sans-serif font on a monochromatic support.

Kawara allowed himself one day to create each work; if a painting remained unfinished by midnight, he destroyed it. As a whole, the series calls attention to the passage of time. The Moon Landing canvases are larger than most in the series, a reflection of the cultural magnitude of the events that took place that month.

On Kawara was born in Kariya, Japan. A leading figure in Conceptual art, the artist is best known for his ritualistic meditation on time. After immigrating to the United States in 1964, he was integral to New York’s Conceptual art movement, alongside Hanne Darboven, Sol LeWitt, Joseph Kosuth, and John Baldessari. Kawara’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions including Kunsthalle Berlin; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. A long-term installation of paintings from his Today series is on view at Dia: Beacon, New York.