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On Kawara passed at the age of 81

On Kawara, the Japan-born conceptual artist who made his home in New York City for the past 50 years, has died at the age of 81. A representative for David Zwirner, his gallery, confirmed the news of his passing.

For the better part of a century, Kawara investigated the nature of time and played with the idea of identity in the face of death. He refused all interviews and declined to have his picture taken.

For his “Today” series, which he began in 1966 and produced throughout his career, he meticulously painted that day’s date on canvas. He worked without stencils and used the date-notation system and language for the country he happened to be working in. These works were generally paired with newspapers from the same day. One of his other best-known series is “I Am Still Alive,” which consists of telegrams that he sent to various friends and acquaintances, each of which proclaims, “I am still alive.”

A major retrospective of his work, Silence, is slated to open at Manhattan’s Guggenheim Museum in February 2015. The exhibition will be the first full representation of Kawara’s art, beginning in 1964 and including every category of work.