Friday, February 02, 2007


Many commentators, and perhaps even band members themselves, used to say that Yoko Ono was the cause of the break-up of The Beatles - nevertheless, to me, it was the other way round: The Beatles were the worst thing that could have happened to her (or at least her art). She remains one of my favourite and seminally most influential artists.

I'm currently wandering around the atmospheric streets of the old city of Cologne where, amongst other metropolitan activities, I've been perusing the numerous and excellent art book stores after yesterday enjoying the magical Angkor Wat exhibition in Bonn. And so, amidst the usual Helmut Newton and Richard Kern photographic books, and the glossy Taschen paperbacks, a veritable gem proudly stood out: YES YOKO ONO by Alexandra Munroe & Jon Hendricks (Japan Society). This beautifully bound 352 page hardback volume (with CD even) is full of so much that has been relatively undocumented for such a long time, so often overshadowed by the Fab Four connection - in fact the other best biographical source has been the extended section in Albert Goldman's John Lennon. The scandalously overlooked films, music, and art she made, particularly in the years leading up to meeting Lennon, are all notable and most worthy of time and investigation, and unlike other 60s work which seem so dated, it still does it.


JAEGER_90 said...

It's downright frustrating how she's become a regular laughing stock for so many people who wouldn't be interested in that kind of art anyway if it weren't for the Beatles connection. On the other hand, there may be quite a few people who never would have experienced her art otherwise and probably have bought one of her albums just because of the Apple Records label, like Oren Ambarchi once said in an interview was an eye-opening experience for him.

theotherjohn said...

It's an amazing book dedicated to an amazing artist - the perfect companion to Grapefruit.

Have you seen the U.S. vs John Lennon? It's possibly the most pro-Yoko film I've encountered in recent times. Hopefully films like this will help the public recognise her for being an important artist.

David said...

There's a few nice recordings of her from the old Aspen magazine days at

William Bennett said...

Thanks for that great link, David!

Benny Woo said...

Great book. I found it for about ten pounds in Bookworld last month.

The following might also be of interest:

"Art by Film Directors"

By no means as comprehensive or lusciously bound as YES, it's nonetheless a rare thing for featuring the pictorial and sculptural work of Cocteau, Kurosawa, Jarman, Svankmajer, Eisenstein, Ray and about 20 others.