On the verge of her 80th birthday (Feb. 18, 2013), Ono steps out of her iconic late husband’s shadow for a sympathetic profile.
The authors present her as a groundbreaking creative artist whose work has been misunderstood, not to say derided, for decades and who was unjustly vilified as the woman who broke up the Beatles. They describe a comfortable upbringing in Japan and the United States, childhood experiences in World War II and artistic development as part of New York’s avant-garde scene in the 1950s and early ’60s. The book goes on to chronicle her relationships with various husbands, including “soul mate” John Lennon, and her two children, life as a peace-activist celebrity in the ’70s, and (in much less detail) her activities, honors and exhibitions after Lennon’s death. The account is occasionally trite (“Yoko and John were stressed to the max”) or platitudinous, and it’s unlikely to persuade younger (or any) readers to appreciate Yoko’s creations—which run to works like an 80-minute film of naked rumps walking by and sets of chess pieces that are all the same color—as great art. Nevertheless, it does impart a good sense of conceptual and performance art’s purposes and expressions along with a detailed portrait of a complex woman who for several reasons has a significant place in our cultural history.
Even rabid fans of Lennon or the 1960s will find new information and angles in this searching study. (photos, timeline to 2009, resource lists) (Biography. 12-15)