Flare pants and five inch clogs aren’t the only things that have resurrected from the 1960s… Avant-Garde artist, Yoko Ono is the star of MoMA’s summer exhibition. This belated recognition showcases a compilation of her conceptual and performance art works, Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960-1971. The solo retrospective opened at the Manhattan museum on May 17.
Once referred to by her late husband, John Lennon, as “the world’s most famous unknown artist,” this exhibition highlights nearly 44 years of Ono’s career. Now, at 82 years old, she is finally receiving some well-deserved recognition. Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960-1971 reveals the never before seen typewritten/handwritten pages of Ono’s artist book, Grapefruit. The exhibit is showing the first copy, limited edition, published in 1964. This book is one of her conceptual works, touching on many 1960s poetic-philosophical concepts.
Also on view is the chilling Cut Piece (1964) performance by Ono. Filmed in 1965 by Albert and David Maysles, Ono is seated alone on stage holding a large pair of cutting shears, while audience members walk on stage snipping off swatches of her clothes. This abstract film has become legendary in the art world; building controversy around modern art’s meaning behind physical and psychic vulnerability.
Beatles frontman, Lennon had a significant impact on Ono’s artistic career. The MoMA exhibit displays several of her conceptual art collaborations with Lennon. Their peace-themed “WAR IS OVER! IF YOU WANT IT!” poster and billboard campaign from 1969 is one of most well recognized collections on view. Lennon also collaborated with Ono on her solo musical projects, featuring her band, Plastic Ono. The retrospective displays her musical recording in a listening room, distanced from the many other installations, placing the viewer in complete isolation.
The exhibit’s curators put together Ono’s most prized works, all hailing from her generational era. This epic collection was created at a time when the art world was mid-transformation. The 1960s was one of the most meaningful decades for 20th century art with movements like Pop Art, Minimalism, Conceptual Art, and Performance Art. Although Ono may not have been accepted during this time, she definitely has now been deemed a significant part of the 20th century art scene, paving the way for contemporary artists ahead.