Moderna Museet (Stockholm, Sweden)

Stockholm, Sweden. In the Scandinavian design kingdom, surprised to find an unexpected artwork. 

Having an image of Sweden, recall “IKEA”, then “furniture” may come to mind. Also, some people may have the impression that there are many people who have an avant-garde ideologically. Personally, I had worked for Swedish market for a while, so I had communicated with Swedish people. I have the impression that there are more solid people than avant-garde.

Although it is my opinion, I feel that there are many people like school teacher. The image is that a teacher type persons come to the museum and exchange opinions each other in front of the picture. This is my individual image, but I guess it is not much deviated.

In addition, Northern Europe including Sweden has much difference between heaven and earth, in summer and winter. If you bathe sunlight in summer and walk in the beautiful cityscape, you might think that this is the most comfortable place to live in the world, but in winter, the sun rises for a short time, so it is dark all day long. According to this long period of cold and dark environment, people will spend much time in the house and the furniture design will evolve.

This museum is in “Stockholm”, Sweden. It is on an island in the sea, a short walk from the city center. There is a bridge to the island. The location was hard to find since I visited in winter and it was already dark. Also, it was difficult to distinguish the building which has no special feature.

The museum itself is a well-balanced exhibition of paintings, sculptures, objects and films. The image on this museum of artworks is, there is “Andy Warhol”, but no “Lichtenstein”. Atmosphere in the museum looks free, there are people having a sketching for artwork, relaxing by sitting on the floor.

This museum is very special to me, since there were “Date Painting” by “On-Kawara”. I described the story as below though this is very personal matter.

When I have visited this museum, I have found his artworks in the beginning part. I thought that “Oh, his artworks are here, he must be popular”, then I have stared at three sets of “Date Painting”. I have moved my eyes from the right to left, despite that I move my eyes from left to right normally. I have stared year and date on the right-hand painting, then stared it on the center, then I have stared year and date on the left-hand side.

Now I have stared its year and date on the left-hand side of “Date Painting”, I surprised that its date was my birthday. “On Kawara” had painted this “Today Series” for nearly 50 years from year of 1966 to 2013. The concept of this “Date Painting” is that its artwork has to complete on the day, and if it could not complete within that day (until 12:00 at midnight), it has to dump.

I guess that he has not worked for this “Date Painting” every day and if he has made this “Date Painting” for 50 days per year, it means that total number of this Date Painting is 50 x 48 years = 2400. (At a later date, I found the indication next to Date Painting at museum that he has produced nearly 3,000 in total).

This means that I have found his specific one artwork out of 2400. Just having the calculation, 30% probability for “On-Kawara” made “Date Painting” on the date of my birthday, 30% probability for “Date-Paining” on my birthday going for the market, 2% probability that Stockholm art museum purchases the “Date Painting” on my birthday, 30% for the probability that Stockholm museum displays the “Date-Painting” on my birthday, 10% for the probability that I visit this Modern Art museum, the total probability I encounter the “Date Painting” on my birthday is, 0.0054% (30% by 30% by 2% by 30% by 10%).

  • Probability for “On-Kawara” made “Date Painting” on the date of my birthday : 30%
  • Pobability for “Date-Paining” on my birthday going for the market : 30%
  • Probability that Stockholm art museum purchases the “Date Painting” on my birthday : 2%
  • Probability that Stockholm museum displays the “Date-Paining” on my birthday : 30%
  • Probability that I visit this Modern Art museum, the total probability I encounter the “Date Painting” on my birthday : 10%

Total probability : 0.0054%

Just seeing this figure, I was fortunate. I have taken picture for this “Date Painting” on my birthday and displayed with photo frame at my home. I would like to get this artwork from the museum, but I should not do it, or I would not like to do that. (*)

“On-Kawara” has passed away in June 2014, the above-mentioned event has happened at the same year of 2014, and I guess this is not accidental.

(*) In February 2023, I happened to come across On Kawara’s Date Painting at a gallery in Tennoz, Tokyo. There were 12 Date Paitings on display and 2 paintings were for sale. The dates are ‘January 1, 1996’ and ‘May 1, 1967’. “May 1, 1967” was a painted in orange (carrot color). As for the price, “January 1, 1996” is enough to build a luxurious detached house. “May 1, 1967” was the price at which a second-hand 2LDK apartment could be purchased in Shinagawa-ku and Meguro-ku, Tokyo. “May 1, 1967” was sold on the first day of the exhibition, perhaps because of rare color.

Visited in 2014.

​Basic Information

​■ Name of Place:Moderna Museet
■ Address : Exercisplan 4, 111 49 Stockholm, Sweden
​■ Homepage: