Peace & love: AFA Gallery showcases John Lennon art

Copyright © Yoko Ono

Copyright © Yoko Ono

NEW YORK – AFA Gallery will present the illustration artworks of John Lennon from Oct. 1st through Oct. 31. The exhibition is free, and open to the public, and the entire collection will be available for acquisition.

Special events and programming will be scheduled throughout the month to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of John Lennon’s birthday, including an opening reception on Thursday, Oct. 1, from 6-9 p.m. and a curatorial presentation scheduled for Friday, Oct. 9 from 6-9 p.m.

In his art, John Lennon, the legendary musician, songwriter, poet, philosopher and artist, delivered a consistent message – peace and love. Art was actually his first love, as he began drawing long before he owned a guitar.

John Lennon’s artwork celebrates human love and communication – two themes at the heart of his contribution to the art of the 20th century. His iconic Self-Portrait image has become the cornerstone of the collection. Offered through the Bag One Arts program, these posthumous, limited edition prints are adapted from Lennon’s original drawings. The art has been selected from rare archival sketches and is representative of his whimsical and thought provoking imagery. Each print is reproduced utilizing the sophisticated and detailed standards typical for archival fine art printing processes, guided, approved and hand-signed by Yoko Ono.

In many ways, John Lennon was truly a renaissance man whose insights and perspective helped shape the sensibility of the contemporary mind. Born John Winston Lennon on Oct. 9 1940 in Liverpool, England, he died tragically on Dec. 8 1980. He married Yoko Ono at Gibraltar on March 20 1969. On March 29 1969 John and Yoko commenced their famous bed-in for peace at the Amsterdam Hilton.

While music will be remembered as his most popular art form, he loved both literature and his visual art, studying at Liverpool Art Institute from 1957-1960. He penned and illustrated three books: In His Own Write (1964), A Spaniard in the Works (1965) and Skywriting By Word of Mouth (1987).

As early as 1969, John began moving toward a return to visual art. He was primarily interested in drawing and favored the creative loose sketch, working in pen and ink. In 1969, as a wedding gift for Yoko, John drew the Bag One Portfolio, a chronicle of their wedding ceremony, honeymoon, and their plea for world peace, the Bed-in. The suite also contained erotic sketches. The “Bag One Series” was first published and exhibited in January 1970 at the London Art Gallery. On the second day, the exhibition was closed by Scotland Yard and the erotic lithographs confiscated. A complete suite of the Bag One Portfolio of lithographs was donated to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where it remains in the permanent collection.

During 1986, Yoko Ono decided to share John’s artistic genius with the public by publishing the first in a series of prints titled This is my Story Both Humble and True followed with Bag One Continued…, Dakota Days, Karuizawa Series and Japan Through John Lennon’s Eyes. These works are a commentary on John’s everyday life, his wife, Yoko and their son, Sean. The drawings are whimsical yet poetic, loving portraits of their years together. Drawn by one of the most important cultural figures of our time, these illustrations celebrate human love and communication – two themes at the heart of John Lennon’s contribution to the art of the 20th century.

Born and raised in Liverpool, England, as a teenager John Lennon became involved in music, forming his first band, the Quarrymen, which by 1960 had evolved into The Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. Lennon was a visual artist before he picked up his first guitar or wrote his first song. He attended the prestigious Liverpool Art Institute (1957-1960). He continued to draw throughout his life. Lennon’s primary medium was line drawing, either in pen, pencil, or Japanese sumi ink.

In the years that followed, Lennon expressed himself once again through drawing, this time reflecting his love for his family. Since 1989 Bag One Arts has published a series of limited edition prints of his work, which has traveled throughout the world.

The gallery is located in SoHo at 54 Greene St. on the corner of Broome. Gallery hours are daily 10 a.m. –7 p.m. daily and 11 a.m.–6 p.m. on Sundays. All events are complimentary and open to the public with an RSVP required. Email or call 212-226-7374. Visit AFA Gallery online for more information.


Photo Credit: Iain Macmillan, copyright © Yoko Ono

Photo Credit: Iain Macmillan, copyright © Yoko Ono