• gerard van weyenbergh

Yoko Ono, her life is a novel! with video

Updated: Feb 28

Her life is a novel! The artist of Japanese origin Yoko Ono (born in 1933) has not left her mark only in Pop-Rock music's history as the companion and muse of John Lennon. Painter, performer, filmmaker, poet, singer. Ono is multiple, as the great figures of the American avant-garde of the 1960s and 1970s. She is a woman who embodies sexual liberation and the anti-militarism of the beat generation and the hippie movement.

Close to Fluxus , sensitive to music, Yoko Ono has built a conceptual work based on utopia, the experience of the sensitive and theatricality.

She said

"Only art and music have the power to bring peace. "

Her life

Yoko Ono was born in Tokyo in February 1933. She comes from a very privileged background and has been immersed in art since her childhood. Her mother is a painter, her father a musician (and banker!). The girl leads brilliant studies in an elite school.

World War II brought this golden youth to an abrupt halt. Her family fled the bombings and took refuge in the countryside. She moved to the United States at the end of the conflict.

In New York in 1952, Yoko Ono pursued studies in philosophy and musicology. She married in 1957 with the composer Toshi Ichiyanagi, who introduced her to the avant-garde world. A great meeting turns her life upside down for the first time: that of John Cage! She participates in the multiple actions of Fluxus, which advocates anti-art freedom, abolishes the border between art and life.

Yoko Ono began her career as an artist by performing performances that put her on the stage. She paints and draws, creates works where the absurd is combined with poetry. Music fully participates in its aesthetic universe. Yoko Ono often develops a feminist point of view, insisting on the female body's baring and campaigns for pacifism in the world.

Therefore, she is already active in the avant-garde when she meets John Lennon , after moving to London with her husband in 1966. Intellectually attracted to each other, they first meet each other. Within the framework of artistic and musical projects, they then became lovers in 1968. Lennon divorces, Ono too (she has just had a daughter with the scenario writer Anthony Cox). They married the following year and campaigned for peace in the world, notably producing the famous Bed-in for Peace, which received much media attention.

Yoko Ono occupies a growing place in the Beatles' life, a group that knows an unprecedented worldwide popularity in the music industry. She also published her first album in 1970, and others would follow, still experimental. Simultaneously, the tireless artist leads a career as a filmmaker, in the vein of Fluxus. Georges Maciunas, the founder of the movement, is often behind the camera.

In 1973, the couple moved to New York, in the Dakota Building. They know, during this decade, tumultuous relations move away and find each other. In 1975, the couple gave birth to a son, Sean. Yoko Ono is 42 years old. After Lennon died in 1980, Yoko Ono continued her musical career. Her last album was released in 2018 (she's 85!). In 2016, she made her first installation, a sculpture in the form of petals inspired by the Japanese garden aesthetic in Chicago.

Her key works

Yoko Ono, Cut Piece , 1964 - 1965

Cut Piece , 1964

Yoko Ono performs this performance in Japan. Motionless, seated, and passive, she offers viewers the opportunity to cut out small pieces of the clothes she is wearing and thus strip her. She'll end up in a bra but won't reveal her chest, retaining the underwear at the last moment. The purpose of this action was to draw attention to the reification of women in society and advocate respect for others.

Yoko Ono, Apple (Exhibition view at the Serpentine Gallery, London, 2012) , 1966

Apple, 1966

Placed on a plexiglass base, this fruit becomes a sculpture. Yet it is an organic element subject to the test of time, withering and rotting, just like the human body can. This is a form of contemporary memento mori, which simply reminds us to honor the living without fear of death.

Yoko Ono and John Lennon, Bed-In for Peace, Amsterdam Hilton Hotel, Amsterdam , 1969

Bed-in for peace, with John Lennon, Amsterdam and Montreal 1969

On the occasion of their honeymoon, the couple took the opportunity to carry out an action in favor of peace and against the war in Vietnam. From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Yoko Ono and John Lennon receive journalists from all over the world in their hotel rooms. They are lying, surrounded by militant posters. Dressed in white, the couple is both the embodiment of pacifism and multiculturalism. This real performance will be the subject of a photographic series, and inspired a song in John Lennon. Beaux Arts Magazine

Claire Maingon • December 14, 2020 VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoU0E_ab36Q