I Am Still Alive

On Kawara would send a telegram to his friends and it would include the words "I am still alive." This so called artwork compares to all of his other pieces. Personally I do not consider just about any of his work as art. When I think of art, I think of colors or pictures or something I enjoy looking at. Words on a paper do not catch my eye or really interest me one bit.

As a conceptual artist, On Kawara demonstrated how the negative aspects of life also kind of take over the feeling with the word “alive” in his ongoing series of telegrams titled “I Am Still Alive.” The telegrams are sent to his friends to let them know that, yes, he is still alive.
When viewing these telegrams we are forced to think about the day they will stop arriving. By drawing attention to the fact that he is still alive, Kawara forces us to consider the negative: his death. Although his artwork doesnt really seem too enjoyable to look at, I think a lot of it has some pretty in depth meaning to it. This piece relates to the Today series and I got up, the two other pieces of art I discussed. He creates this art every day, whether it is about him getting up, him being alive or On Kawara simply creating artwork that displays that specific day he is making the art.


Got Up; 1977

This artwork was considered the most personal and intimate of his works. It is part of a continuous piece produced by On Kawara between 1968 and 1979 in which each day the artist sent two different friends or colleagues a picture postcard, each stamped with the exact time he arose that day and the addresses of both sender and recipient. The length of each postcard ranged from a single card to hundreds sent consecutively over a period of months. Just in 1973 he sent postcards from twenty-eight cities. These Postcards were not parked with the time that he woke up, but of the time he actually got up out of bed to start the day.
Not only did he record the time he got up on these postcards, but he also put pictures on the postcards he sent out. These were pictures of the beautiful city of Manhattan. The pictures created an aerial tour of the city circling around the United Nations (and inside the General Assembly), down the East River along the waterfront to New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty, and finally roaming around Federal Plaza at street level before coming to rest at City Hall. ("On Kawara: I GOT UP; On Kawara (2001.228a-pp) Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History The Metropolitan Museum of Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: metmuseum.org. Web. 24 Nov. 2009. .)
I think On Kawara develops a connection between art and life in this piece. When he records the time he gets up and sends it to friends he turns it into his own kind of art but it is also deals with his life. I find this piece to be similar to the Today Series as well as all of his other works he does because they all deal with some sort of documentation. This artwork reminds me of a vacation. It is as if someone is far away on a vacation and is keeping in touch with family or friends via postcards, making them pretty with pictures but also the time he got up may tell a story in itself. If he got up early maybe he had a lot of things to do that day or if he got up late he may have had a long night or something.

Today series: 1966

On Kawara was an artist in the 1960's that created documents and considered them art. Many works consisted of dates such as the Today Series. There are now over 2,000 works in this series. One particular piece of work I'm going to focus on out of the Today Series is the artwork titled Today Series: 1966.

This work of art was just one of many in On Kawara's Today Series. Each of the Date Paintings is inscribed with the date of the day on which the individual painting was created. If he does not complete the painting by midnight he destroys it. Some days he makes more than one but not too often does that happen.

Some guidelines are made for the paintings in this series of artwork done by On Kawara. All of the artwork is done horizontally, ranging from eight by ten inches to sixty-one by eighty-nine inches. For every painting, he mixes the colors he uses that day to create uniqueness in each painting. Four or five coats of acrylic are evenly applied to the surface of the canvas, on the sides as well as the frontal plane, and each layer is sanded down before the next is added, creating a dense matte surface. These works of art are usually 3-dimensional and consists of letters, numbers, and punctuation created in the center of the piece. ("Dia Art Foundation - Exhibition Main : On Kawara." Dia Art Foundation - Dia. Web. 23 Nov. 2009. .)