Yoko Ono

  • Born 1933 in Tokyo, Japan

Yoko Ono is considered a daring innovator in performance and Conceptual art. She was born into an upper-class Tokyo family, but because her father, a banker, was transferred to San Francisco shortly before her birth, she only came to the U.S. with her mother two years later, in 1935. The family returned to Japan in 1937, but in 1940 they left for New York City, staying only until 1941, after the Pearl Harbor bombing. Ono lived in Japan during World War II, a formative experience. In 1951 she became the first woman to be accepted into the philosophy department of Tokyo’s exclusive Gakushūin University, but she left after just two semesters. After World War II she returned with her family to the U.S. and enrolled in Sarah Lawrence College. There she first learned about the work of artist and composer John Cage (1912–1992), who was later an influential mentor and collaborator. Ono met British singer-songwriter John Lennon at an exhibition of her work in London (1966), and they were married from 1969 until his death in 1980. Ono’s work has been widely exhibited internationally. In 2009 she was awarded the Golden Lion Award for lifetime achievement at the Venice Biennale.

Artworks by Yoko Ono in the exhibition