8 things you should know about Yoko Ono

Infamous Beatles breaker, Yoko Ono is before all a multimedia artist, composer, and musician raised in between United States and Japan. Associated with the Fluxus movement, she maintained a unique and original practice within the movement and her body of work includes paintings, performances, videos and music.

Here are 8 fun facts you might know about this yet widely popularized figure of the art world. 



Yoko’s childhood was marked by WWII: she says that one night in 1945, she, her mother and two siblings hid in an underground bunker while the city was bombarded by the US army. 83,000 people died and quarter of the city burned.



After she moved to New York, she became very involved in the local avant-garde music scene and met Toshi Ichiyanagii, a Japanese avant-garde composer, who shared her interest for new figures like John Cage, and who she married in 1956 against her parents’ wishes.

After a first divorce in 1962, she married Anthony Cox, an American movie producer and art promoter, from who she had one daughter.

John Lennon was there her third marriage !



One of her most famous performances is entitled “Cup Piece” and was performed during the 1966 Destruction In Art symposium held in London. She knelt on a stage and asked the audience to come and cut off her clothing with a pair of scissors.



Yoko and John Lennon made a series of performances and events together which was received with incomprehension and sometime outrage. Among other things, they created the concept of “Bed-in” which consisted in holding meetings for peace in pajamas and in their bed. The first one was held directly in their honeymoon suite at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel in March 1969.


Yoko Ono’s performances might have bewildered the audience at times, like when held an imaginary exhibition at the MoMa in 1971 to which visitors only came to discover that they were the work of art, and recorded on film by John Lennon’s assistants. The museum had to show large notices explaining the nature of the work to the audience.



Yoko Ono is also famous for her “instruction pieces” aka canvases exhibited with instructions attached to them, pushing further the boundaries of conceptual art. All her instruction pieces are published in the book entitled Grapefruit.



After their divorced, movie director Tony Cox became Christian fundamentalist and kidnapped he and Yoko’s daughter in 1971.They disappeared for year before Yoko were finally reunited with her daughter in 1998.



During her London period, Yoko Ono also produced movies. Her most remembered production is entitled No.4 (Bottoms) (1967) and features a series of closely shot human buttocks moving up and down as performers walk on an unseen treadmill. Controversy around this movie only made Yoko Ono’s popularity grew at the time and turn her into the “high priestess of the happening”.