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John Lennon Biography

John Winston Ono Lennon was born John Winston Lennon October 9, 1940 in Liverpool, England, and was infamously shot and killed on December 8, 1980 in New York City. He gained worldwide fame as a singer, songwriter and musician with the Beatles. His artistic creations encompassed music, writing, drawing and film.

Lennon’s musical biography is monumental, his activism notable and his life has inspired uncountable publications. This short biography will focus on his artwork that began at a very young age even before he discovered his love and talent for music. As most fans know, Lennon’s music dominated his life, but he has said that “art was his first love” and later reported “I started to make money with music and the guitar, but art always came first.” During his school days, he gained notoriety for creating cartoonish caricatures of teachers who were not well-liked and later, to the delight of his classmates, published a satirical magazine called the Daily Howl.

It has been documented that his voluminous drawings and poems as a teenager were not appreciated by his guardian, Aunt Mimi and she threw away much of his earliest works considering them junk. Despite his poor academic achievements, Lennon was recognized for artistic talent and attended the prestigious Liverpool College of Art (1957-1960). He was later expelled for his rebellious behavior.

In the mid 1960s, Lennon’s adoring public experienced his sketches and illustration within the pages of his books: In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works. His art, to Lennon, continued to be as important as his music.

This ‘hobby’ becomes more intentional after Lennon marries (1969) and collaborates with Yoko Ono, an established avant-garde artist. His wedding gift to Ono was a suite of drawings called Bag One Portfolio which chronicled their wedding, honeymoon and widely publicized Bed-In for world peace. The Bag One Portfolio was created into limited edition lithographs and are featured in a prestigious London gallery in 1970. Drama unfolds at the highly publicized show with the police confiscating several pieces that were deemed pornographic. Today, the collection is a part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City.

Lennon continued drawing as a means of self expression and reflection throughout his life. He studied the challenging sumi-e style drawings to improve his creations. His later works reflected the rekindling of his love with Ono and his devotion to his young son, Sean (born October 9, 1975), to whom he was the primary caregiver while Ono managed their business affairs.

Unexpectedly and violently on December 8, 1980, John Lennon was taken from the world where he promoted peace and harmony.

Committed to keeping his legacy and message alive, in 1986, Yoko Ono, began releasing limited editions of some of the most meaningful drawings and hand-written manuscripts. Using a variety of original fine art printing techniques, she showcased John Lennon as an important artist of his time. Each original print had Lennon’s signature embossed as well as Yoko Ono Lennon hand signed in pencil. She also included Lennon’s chop in red ink on the art.

 

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