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Yoko Ono: Why She Should Be Known For So Much More Than Being John Lennon’s Wife

Yoko Ono, 11 November, 1974. Photo by David Gahr, via Yoko Ono’s Facebook

Early Life and Education

Yoko Ono was born February 18, 1933, in Tokyo, Japan to a wealthy Japanese family. As a child, she wrote poetry, plays, and received classical training in both voice and piano. In 1952, she became the first woman admitted to Gakushūin University’s philosophy program.

Ono’s father was a banker, and his job took their family back and forth between Japan, San Francisco, and New York. This exposed her to different cultures and religions as a child and young adult.

In 1953 she joined her family in the New York City area where her father had been transferred. She studied music and writing at Sarah Lawrence College but never graduated. She dropped out of university in 1955 and moved to New York City and became involved in the art community of the city.

Contributions to the Art World

In the 1960s, Ono’s involvement in the art world increased. She was part of an art group, Fluxus, inspired by Neo-Dadaism and the avant-garde.

1964 brought two of Ono’s most famous works of art. Cut Piece was an interactive art experience in which she encouraged her audience to use scissors to cut off parts of the dress she wore until she was left naked on stage.

Cut Piece (1964)

Grapefruit was a conceptual artist’s book that contained short works, poetry, drawings, and instructions.

Grapefruit (1964)

Meeting John Lennon

In 1966, Ono moved to London and met John Lennon, a member of the Beatles, at one of her art exhibitions. Drawn together by their passion for their art and their radical political views, they began working together on musical projects and activist works. The couple continued to create together until Lennon’s death in 1980.

John Lennon, Yoko Ono's 'Happy Xmas (War Is Over)': Watch Video - Rolling  Stone
Yoko Ono and John Lennon

Ono is best known as Lennon’s wife, but her marriage overshadowed her success as an artist and all of the major contributions she made to the art world as well as her involvement in political activism. Since Lennon’s death, Ono has continued to leave her mark on the world through her art, and even by sharing wisdom and motivational thoughts on Twitter. She is so much more than John Lennon’s wife.

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1 comment

  1. I am not too familiar with The Beatles or their personal lives, but this article on Yoko Ono drew me in due to the title. I find whenever someone “unknown” to the public view dates or marries someone that is in the spotlight, they are seen only as the significant other of X celebrity. It it interesting to see how Lennon’s life shifted after meeting her and how they created art together. I am not sure if they ever wrote music together, but it would be amazing to see more of their collaborative work if there is anymore to be discovered.

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