Home  >  Magazine  >  Yoko Ono's Lion

Golden Lion for Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono: 'Shadow Piece' (c) photo by Premier Art Scene

The Golden Lions are for the visual arts what the oscars are for the movies. Yoko Ono received a Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the 53rd Venice Biennale.


She really earned it!


Ex-Beatle John Lennon said in the 1970s about his wife: 'Yoko is the world's most famous unknown artist!' Nearly everybody knows her name and the fact, that she was married to Mr. Lennon - but not many know her work in detail.


Yoko Ono was born into a wealthy Japanese family with an aristocratic and International banking background. She grew up in Japan and the United States. As her father had a passion for music, she enjoyed also a classical singing education. (So, let us get rid of the myth that she was just singing along to Lennon's music...)


She finally freed herself from leading a traditional Japanese wealthy establishment life in 1955 by dropping out of her college in Bronxville and moving to the Japanese experimental musician Ichiyanagi Toshi to Manhattan, NYC. He introduced her to the group of artists around minimal musician John Cage.


Yoko Ono: 'Fly Piece' (c) photo by Premier Art Scene

In the 1960s, she was part of the Fluxus movement and a regular to International avant-garde exhibitions and festivals. She is one of the key figures of minimal and concept art.


Feminism is an important element in the art of Yoko Ono: In her famous performance 'Cut Piece' of 1966 she sat dressed in beautiful clothing on a stage without moving. Then she invited the audience to cut pieces of cloth from her clothes until she was naked. She sat there without moving in the traditional Japanese way of sitting. (She did this performance a number of times in different places and the audience always acted the same way.)


Zen philosophy is also an essential part of her art: I especially like her series started in the early 1960 called 'Paintings to be Constructed in Your Head'. The title already indicates that there is no actual work of art necessary anymore. It is more about the idea, or the concept. At that time, this was very revolutionary. You can see a selection of these works now in the 53rd Venice Biennial.


Yoko Ono: 'Painting to Shake Hands' (c) photo by Premier Art Scene

In 1966, she met Lennon at her exhibition at the avant-garde Gallery Indica in London. They married in 1969. In 1980, John Lennon was murdered in front of their home, the Dakota building, NYC.


In 1971, she had her first larger museum show at the Everson Museum. It has to be noted that it lasted until 1989(!) until she had her first museum retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Many curators then (re)discovered her part in the minimal and conceptual art movement.


Since then she regularly contributes to International exhibitions and biennials.

I admire her work, as it is not just rational minimalism - it is also very poetic!




by UGL.



Back to 53rd Venice Biennial overview


Back to magazine overview



Jil, 25-06-09 10:04
Yoko Ono is really a great artist!

(And she was always more than just the wife of John Lennon.)
Lavon, 06-08-11 17:05
Good points all around. Truly apprecitead.
Narendra, 14-12-12 19:44
Tell me, you folks across the pond, are you excetid at least? Hell yeah! I'm German and I almost gave up hope on seeing some German bands as RB DLC. The Wir sind Helden -track is going to get my girlfriend back into playing RB with me! Seriously! Funnily the BAP track (which sure isn't that contemporary ) is in kf6lsch . That's the accent native people in Cologne speak and boy is it hard to understand! Not even many Germans will understand the lyrics I'm excetid to see how HMX wrote them!Also, I find it a bit unfair that you say that this is the most disappointing week since RB3 launch, just because you're not that familiar with these songs, as I expected you to judge music by different standards than just by popularity (of course I still respect your opinion Joe Just try to imagine RB would be a European or Japanese product you enjoy a lot and this week would be the first or second in the history of RB DLC with tracks you knew and enjoy in YOUR native language! See? That's how excetid I am
havxmpriv, 15-12-12 12:53
ogghuhd, 18-12-12 10:09

Add comment

* - required field


CAPTCHA image for SPAM prevention
If you can't read the word, click here.