Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Artists: Yoko Ono & Japanese Contemporary Artists in New York

Yoko Ono is forever associated with the Beatles, yet her aristocratic family life in imperial Japan, long before she met John Lennon, was equally intriguing. Yoko is back in Japan for a three-week trip and, for the first time, has agreed to a journalist (Craig McLean of The Times Online) accompanying her to write about this side of her multi-faceted life:
"She may not look it, but Yoko Ono, a woman who has survived three decades of tragedy, debunking and myth, is now 77 years old. For many of those years, she has been blamed, perhaps unfairly, for the break-up of the world’s best-loved musical partnership: she was the woman who came between John Lennon and Paul McCartney, insisting on being in the studio as the band disintegrated. She also cradled Lennon just a few seconds after the fatal shots from a revolver rang out on a cold New York night in December 1980.

As she has grown older she has become — perhaps inevitably — more reflective about her past. She has mellowed and in recent years visits to Japan have become more frequent. She returned with Lennon several times in the 1970s at a point in his life when he had all but disappeared from public view."

Japan has been a constant presence in New York since 1860, when Walt Whitman witnessed a samurai delegation riding down Broadway. Not long after the first political and commercial visits, awareness of Japanese art began to trickle into Gotham, slowly at first but later building into a thriving network of creative exchange.

From October 2007 to January 2008, Japan Society featured 33 selected artists, all Japanese-born yet extremely diverse, and Yoko Ono was among them. The exhibition, entitled Making a Home, consisted of six sections that were linked by ideas the artists associated with “home,” ranging from comfort and safety found in physical structures to angst and loneliness experienced when living in solitude.

All of the Making a Home artists are true citizens of the world who have ventured beyond their homeland to enjoy the advantages of being an artist in New York, as well as experience the uncertainty that comes with starting afresh.

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