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Friday, November 5,2010

Yoko Ono: I never influenced John's art

By Marisa Aragón Ware

An exhibit of John Lennon's art is coming to Boulder today. Read about the exhibit here. Boulder Weekly caught up with the late Beatle's widow, Yoko Ono, to talk about the exhibit.

Boulder Weekly: John often expressed how much he respected your opinion as an artist. From a purely critical stance, what’s your impression of his artwork?

Yoko Ono: It’s the kind of artwork that I can’t do, that I don’t do. It’s a very different kind of thing that he was into and we were lucky that we liked each other’s work. I think that his work is very interesting because it has a sense of humor that most artwork doesn’t have. Artwork is really very famous for not having a sense of humor.

The animation kind of technique he used, not very many people were doing it in those days. But now the animation technique is “in” in the very serious art world; it’s considered to be good artwork.

BW: John hesitated to debut himself as a visual artist, and when he finally did, he was met with resistance. Why?

YO: He was always a little bit before his time in what he was doing. It’s interesting that he was doing it, but it also kind of frustrated him. Not many people said, “Oh that is great.” Especially because he was a Beatle. People thought, “Oh a Beatle is doing this, so it’s nothing.” The art world has all it’s snobbery and own standard of what should be right and he didn’t fit into that.

BW: Does it seem like people are more accepting now?

YO: I definitely think so. That’s why his shows are very, very popular.

BW: You’ve spent a lot of time in the last 20 years promoting and working with John’s artwork.

YO: That’s part of my work. If I didn’t do it I would feel very guilty. I just know that artists like to share their work and be appreciated for it and communicate with the world. He just suddenly passed away so of course he can’t do it now, so it’s very important that I do it.

BW: Do you think he would be happy to see his work touring around the United States? Would he approve of how it’s being used?

YO: Of course- he’s probably jumping with joy.

BW: Some people have criticized you for adding color to some of the prints of John’s drawings.

YO: Yes, that’s a controversial issue. The thing is, we used to do things together.

One day, the people who were setting this program up, some very professional people who are used to doing these things for artists came to me and said, “How do you like this?” They showed me one of his drawings with these bright colors. I thought, “How dare you do that!” I said, “I hope we’re not going to do this because you’re just coloring John’s work.” They told me, “We have to have color otherwise they won’t hang the work in the windows; they’ll just put it in a back room or something.” Then I said “OK, at least let me color it because John probably would not have minded it if I did it.” It was a practical situation, a practical solution. I made sure that the color was there, but not really.

In the beginning I felt so much pain about the fact that he passed away. It was kind of a burden in a way that I had to do all these things. But then I started to see that we were working together still and I just started to feel better about it.

BW: So it’s become a positive experience for you.

YO: It’s positive, but there are two sides of the coin.

BW: How do you think John’s artistic skills stand up to his musical skills?

Well, he did art in a way that he wanted to do it and that’s how he did his music too. Some people always think, well you know, his songs are simplistic or something. There was a nasty remark about, “Oh, the chords are so simple.” So? He wanted to do it that way and it really communicates very well with people.

BW: I’ve read that John considered himself more of an artist than a musician. Do you think that’s true?

YO: No, who said that? Me? I don’t think I would have said that, but you never know what I would have said. (Laughs) The thing is, he started as an artist. That’s what it was. He was very good at it. He was not very good at some things. His teacher was saying, “Maybe the best chance you have is to try to get into an art school.” And he did because he was really great at doing drawings and paintings. He was an artist first. Then he started to want to be a musician and he became a musician after being an artist. So maybe that’s what you’re talking about. He started as an artist so he had kind of the mentality of an artist. It was very interesting when we started talking to each other, he was just like another artist.

BW: Do you think that being a musician was more important to him than being an artist or were both equally important?

YO: Well, he didn’t think of what he was doing in terms of the word importance, I don’t think. Maybe joy and love. He loved to draw and of course he loved to make songs as well. It was a project of love rather than importance.

BW: I’m sure you’ve gotten to see a lot of John’s artwork that he did as a child and throughout his life. Was his work always pretty similar or did his simplistic, illustrative style emerge later in his life?

YO: It emerged later. It’s almost like Picasso — he was doing very realistic paintings and things in his blue period, back in the very serious stuff. Towards the end of his life I think he was doing something very light and beautiful. It was the same thing with John in the sense that in the beginning he was doing very heavy stuff and gradually it became lighter.

BW: Do you think that you had an influence on his artwork?

YO: No. But I was one of the admirers and I think it’s good to have an admirer instead of a critic at home. I just loved what he was doing.

BW: You really encouraged him to put himself out there as an artist, didn’t you?

YO: Well, he encouraged himself. He wanted to have exhibitions and gallery shows and stuff like that of his work. I thought that was good and of course I did encourage a little.

BW: How did he react when the Bag One fiasco happened and his drawings were confiscated? [The Bag One Portfolio was a series of drawings that were Lennon’s wedding gift to Ono. When they were displayed at the London Art Gallery in 1970, Scotland Yard confiscated eight of the pieces, which had been deemed obscene by authorities.]

YO: We were both lucky. We were not in London at the time, we were in Canada. When we heard about it we said, “Wow, what are they doing?” The thing is, in those days, many people were doing erotic drawings and they weren’t criticized for it. It was only John who was criticized in the way of Scotland Yard confiscating his artwork. In a way it was kind of featuring his artistic side by having such an incredible controversial event. So he wasn’t thinking it was that bad.

BW: Why do you think that those simple drawings caused such a reaction?

YO: It was because he was John Lennon! Because he was a Beatle.

BW: What have you been up to artistically? Are you still creating?

YO: Well kind of, yes. I’m always doing something. I’m a nervous workaholic. (Laughs)

BW: Do you have a specific project you’re working on?

YO: Well, this year I’m dedicating mostly to work on John’s art. But I did a few things on the side. Next year will be more for my stuff I think.

BW: Do you have a favorite piece of John’s artwork?

YO: (Laughs) That question is a very difficult one to answer. I’m hands-on about selecting which drawings become a serigraph, so each time I’m picking something that I love. They’re beautiful, each one of them. They have a kind of vibe that only John can create.

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November 7, 2010

Dear Ms. Ware:

Yoko Ono's so-called Artwork of John Lennon exhibition that opened today in Boulder, Colorado, is a -fraud-.

The so-called "artwork," attributed to John Lennon (d 1980) in this exhibit that is being offered for sale at $500 to $9,000 or more each, was actually forged after 1986.

The dead don't create artwork.

Yet, Yoko Ono and her business partners: Legacy Fine Art & Production Inc. would have the public believe otherwise: "This Artwork of John Lennon exhibition is being promoted as: “At the Boulder exhibit you will be able to view nearly 100 drawings and songwriting that John executed from his youth in 1964 to his untimely death in 1980 including three new releases that have never before been seen by the public.”

John Lennon (d 1980) has -never- seen these non-disclosed posthumous forgeries that Yoko Ono is so eager to misrepresent for sale (at $500 to $9,000 each) to the public as the -Artwork of John Lennon."

The dead don't create artwork.

Despite, Yoko Ono's self-serving twists on reality, this is basically how it started:

In 1986, Yoko Ono had John Lennon's b&w drawings reproduced and those reproductions were misrepresented for sale as original artwork ie., lithographs, serigraphs, etchings and woodcuts.

Shortly, thereafter in 1986, Yoko Ono found out b&w reproductions of John Lennon's b&w drawings would not sell as quickly or for as much as wanted, even when misrepresented as original John Lennon artwork. So, she hired forgers to alter the images by adding color and continued to misrepresent those colorized forgeries as original John Lennon artwork.

Then around 1998, Yoko Ono lost all inhibitions with John Lennon's artistic legacy (as it were) and hired Al Naclerio to take John Lennon's b&w drawings (reproduced in John Lennon's 1964 In His Own Write book and others) and slice & dice  & multiple them into new colorized compositions with counterfeit titles.

Then going from bad to worse, Yoko Ono misrepresented those posthumous forgeries for sale as "Real Love, The Drawings for Sean" John Lennon created for his son Sean between 1976 and 1980.

Then to go from the ridiculous to the sublime, Yoko Ono's argument for acceptance for forging John Lennon's drawings into color, not to mention new and altered compositions,  is "we were working together still."

And all you can retort to Yoko Ono's nonsensical utterance is: "So it’s become a positive experience for you."

Now compare this Yoko Ono's Legacy Fine Art & Production Inc.’s director Rudy Siegel reluctant admission in a June 29, 2006 Washington D.C. station WUSA Channel 9 televised interview by reporter Bruce Leshan (Artwork of John Lennon exhibition in a different venue). In that interview (I was the source and also interviewed) Rudy Siegel admitted: “The majority of the work on display was printed posthumously. – The artwork is coming from the Lennon estate. People aren’t stupid. They know the difference between a print and an original.”

That kind of disclosure is -not- being offered by Yoko Ono or Legacy Fine Art & Production Inc. in any promotional material being used online for this exhibition in Boulder, Colorado.

Finally, you quoted Yoko Ono stating: "I’m hands-on about selecting which drawings become a serigraph."

Serigraphs are an original creative medium where the artist cuts or paints stencil, prints one color at a time, registers those colors, prints their edition, s/n that edition. A serigraph, like any other original work of visual art, would -never- be trivialized as a copy of a "drawing."

In other words, serigraphs, like any original creative medium such as lithographs "must be wholly excuted by hand by the artist and excluding any mechanical and photomechanical processes." (U.S. Customs Informed Compliance May 2006)

The dead don't wholly execute by hand.

Unfortunately, at best, your lack of connoisseurship gave Yoko Ono a free ride to promote, to the unsuspecting Boulder, Coloraod public, an exhibition and sale of non-disclosed posthumous forgeries as the Artwork of John Lennon.

Someday, those potential victims of this Artwork of John Lennon exhibition fraud might discover their misfortune in being dupe by Yoko Ono.

For the sake of those victims, not to mention the reputation of the Boulder Weekly and this reporter, let's hope this weekly and you will be the ones to inform them in a newly published article correcting all the misconceptions and misrepresentation perpetuated, with or without intent.

Otherwide, those victims may someday ask this weekly and its' reporter what did you know and when did you know it.

The learn more, link to:

Finally, to confirm these contentious issues of authenticity do not operate in a vacuum, link to the London Times’ published May 9, 2010 “Oh No Yoko Colours” article: http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/visual_arts/article7120692.ece

Buyer beware,

Gary Arseneau
artist, creator of original lithographs
Fernandina Beach, Florida





Didn't influence his art, Yeah,, just like she didn't influence his heroin addiction.