An Artful Life
by Donald Brackett
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Pub Date 07 Apr 2022 | Archive Date 31 May 2022
For more than sixty years, Yoko Ono has fascinated us as one of the world’s most innovative, radical artists. From a childhood of both extraordinary privilege and extreme deprivation in war-time Japan, she adopted an outsider’s persona and moved to America where, after a spell at Sarah Lawrence College, she made a place for herself in bohemian arts circles. She was already twice divorced and established as a performance artist in the Fluxus movement and in Tokyo’s avant-garde scene before her fortuitous meeting with the Beatles’ John Lennon at a London Gallery in 1966.
Their intense yet fraught relationship, reputed to have blown-up the Beatles, made headlines around the world, as did their famous bed-ins in protest of the Vietnam war, and their majestic, Grammy-winning musical collaborations.
Through it all, and for decades after Lennon’s tragic death, she remained defiantly herself. Yoko Ono: An Artful Life charts her journey of personal turmoil, artistic evolution, and activism, and at last tells her iconic story on her own terms.
From the prologue:
“The merest outline of her life is fascinating. Born to a Tokyo family of merchant aristocrats, she was raised in unusual combinations of pampered luxury and benign neglect, traditional Japanese values and permissive American influences.
During the Second World War, her native city was firebombed beyond recognition and her homeland devastated and humiliated by history’s first application of nuclear warfare. She later graduated from Japan’s best schools and dropped out of Sarah Lawrence College to live with the first of her three husbands in
bohemian New York. That marriage in ruins, she returned to Tokyo, spent time in an asylum, married a dangerous American jazz musician and had her first child. When that marriage also deteriorated, she landed in London in the arms of arguably the most famous rock star alive, John Lennon, just as he was parting
ways with the Beatles. She and Lennon abandoned England for a new life in New York; less than a decade later, he was shot dead on the sidewalk outside of their apartment. Ever since, she has been keeper of the Lennon flame, a hugely successful business woman, one of New York’s most beloved and iconic citizens, and a globally recognized activist.
At the same time, her artistic achievements are diverse and deeply impressive...”
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