Art of John Lennon

Artists

John Lennon  (1940 - 1980)

Although he is best known as the leader of the most famous rock and roll band in the world, John Lennon was also a talented artist who studied art at the Liverpool Art Institute from 1957-60, intending to become a commercial artist. In interviews John described art as his first love.

Lennon's biographer Bill Harry writes that Lennon began drawing and writing creatively at an early age with the encouragement of his uncle. He collected his stories, poetry, cartoons and caricatures in a Quarry Bank High School exercise book that he called the Daily Howl. The drawings were often of crippled people, and the writings satirical, and throughout the book was an abundance of wordplay. According to classmate Bill Turner, Lennon created the Daily Howl to amuse his best friend and later Quarrymen band mate, Pete Shotton, to whom he would show his work before he let anyone else see it. Turner said that Lennon "had an obsession for Wigan Pier. It kept cropping up", and in Lennon's story A Carrot in a Potato Mine, "the mine was at the end of Wigan Pier." Turner described how one of Lennon's cartoons depicted a bus stop sign annotated with the question, "Why?". Above was a flying pancake, and below, "a blind man wearing glasses leading along a blind dog—also wearing glasses".

Lennon's love of wordplay and nonsense with a twist found a wider audience when he was 24. Harry writes that In His Own Write (1964) was published after "Some journalist who was hanging around The Beatles came to me and I ended up showing him the stuff. They said, 'Write a book' and that's how the first one came about". Like the Daily Howl it contained a mix of formats including short stories, poetry, plays and drawings. One story, "Good Dog Nigel", tells the tale of "a happy dog, urinating on a lamp post, barking, wagging his tail—until he suddenly hears a message that he will be killed at three o'clock". The Times Literary Supplement  considered the poems and stories "remarkable ... also very funny ... the nonsense runs on, words and images prompting one another in a chain of pure fantasy". Book Week reported, "This is nonsense writing, but one has only to review the literature of nonsense to see how well Lennon has brought it off. While some of his homonyms are gratuitous word play, many others have not only double meaning but a double edge." Lennon was not only surprised by the positive reception, but that the book was reviewed at all, and suggested that readers "took the book more seriously than I did myself. It just began as a laugh for me"]

In combination with A Spaniard in the Works (1965), In His Own Write formed the basis of the stage play The John Lennon Play: In His Own Write, co-adapted by Victor Spinetti and Adrienne Kennedy. After negotiations between Lennon, Spinetti and the artistic director of the National Theatre, Sir Laurence Olivier the play opened at the Old Vic in 1968. Lennon and Ono attended the opening night performance, their second public appearance together to date.  After Lennon's death, further works were published, including Skywriting by Word of Mouth (1986); Ai: Japan Through John Lennon's Eyes: A Personal Sketchbook (1992), with Lennon's illustrations of the definitions of Japanese words; and Real Love: The Drawings for Sean (1999). The Beatles Anthology (2000) also presented examples of his writings and drawings.


John Lennon.Lennon and Yoko Ono were married on 20 March 1969, and soon released a series of 14 lithographs called "Bag One" depicting scenes from their honeymoon, eight of which were deemed indecent and confiscated during an exhibition in London in January 1970.These lithographs are numbered and signed in pencil by John Lennon.

Since 1986 John's widow Yoko Ono has selected drawings and handwritten song manuscipts from her extensive private collection of John's original works for publication as fine art prints. Print techniques include lithography, serigraphy, copper etching, silkscreen and chine colle.  Each print is individually numbered and signed in pencil by Yoko Ono.

The collection of John Lennon estate prints has been exhibited throughout the North America, Europe, Asia , Australia and New Zealand and is one of the most successful fine art publishing ventures in the world.



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