By Sean Piccoli, Sun Sentinel
February 3, 2010
Yoko Ono discovered early on that the musical legend of her late
husband, John Lennon, did not easily transfer to another of his
creative pursuits: visual art.
Ono had to lobby fine art dealers and gallery owners to carry the
ex-Beatle's drawings, paintings and lithographs and offer up her
own esteemed art-world reputation as a kind of collateral.
The door-to-door retailing was necessary, she said in an interview,
"because they wouldn't take his art without me."
So it's measure of progress that Ono, 76, won't be attending a Feb.
5-7 showing and sale of Lennon's art on Las Olas Boulevard. After
more than a decade as Lennon's art agent, she no longer has to be
present to reassure queasy curators that they haven't made a terrible mistake.
Is it possible that nowadays Lennon's market value at least in
mainstream commercial art circles even surpasses Ono's?
"Definitely," Ono said in reply. "And that's fine. It's great.
Because I would feel very guilty if I just did my work and shoved his
in the closet."
Ono and Lennon met in 1966 at a London gallery where she was
exhibiting some of her avant-garde pieces. She was already a star of
her medium. Of course, he was in the world's most famous band. But
she hadn't yet listened to the Beatles. The Lennon she first
encountered was not a rock star but an art admirer and, as it
happened, a self-taught sketch artist.
Ono said that when she first saw his drawings and this also
happened before she listened to his music she found them "beautiful."
As a couple, Lennon and Ono collaborated on music and on other
projects such as their anti-war "bed-in" of 1969 that fell
somewhere between publicity stunt and performance art. Lennon
continued to produce his own images in a light, impressionistic style
that became his visual trademark.
Ono allowed that Lennon's art might have been influenced by hers, but
said she never sought to serve as his artistic teacher or critic. "I
didn't have to," she said, calling Lennon the artist "astute and
Sean Piccoli can be reached at email@example.com or 954-356-4832.