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Biography

Yoko Ono is a multi-media artist whose thought-provoking work challenges people’s understanding of art and the world around them. From the beginning of her career, she has been a conceptualist with work that encompasses performance, instructions, film, music, and writing.  

Yoko Ono was born in Tokyo in 1933, and moved to New York in 1953, following her studies in philosophy in Japan. By the late 50s, she had become part of the city’s vibrant avant-garde activities. In 1960, she opened her Chambers Street loft to a series of radical performance work, and exhibited realizations of some of her early conceptual works there. In 1961, she had a one-person show at the legendary AG Gallery in New York of her Instruction Paintings. Later that year, she performed a solo concert at Carnegie Recital Hall of revolutionary works involving movement, sound, and voice. In 1962, she returned to Tokyo, where she extended her New York performance and exhibited her Instructions for Paintings at the Sogetsu Art Center. In 1964 Yoko Ono performed Cut Piece in Kyoto and Tokyo, and published her conceptual art book, Grapefruit. In 1965 and 1966, she performed a second concert at Carnegie Recital Hall, participated in the Perpetual Fluxus Festival, exhibited The Stone at the Judson Gallery, and made the first version of Film No. 4 (Bottoms), among numerous other works. In the summer of 1966, she was invited to take part in the Destruction in Art Symposium in London. She held one-person exhibitions at the Indica Gallery as well as at the Lisson Gallery in the following year. During this period, she also performed a number of concerts throughout England. In 1969, together with John Lennon, she realized Bed-In, and the worldwide War Is Over! (if you want it) campaign for peace. 

Ono has made a number of films, including Fly and Rape. She has also made many records, including Fly, Approximately Infinite Universe, and Rising. Most recently, she co-produced Warzone with her son Sean Lennon, on his Chimera Music label.

She has had numerous exhibitions in museums, including traveling exhibitions organized by the Museum of Modern Art Oxford and the Japan Society in New York. In 2007, she created IMAGINE PEACE TOWER on Viðey Island in Iceland. In 2009, she exhibited ANTON’S MEMORY at the Bevilacqua Foundation in Venice, and received the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement from the Venice Biennale. In 2008, she presented touch me, a solo exhibition of interactive works at Galerie Lelong in New York. In 2010, she exhibited I’LL BE BACK at the Studio Stefania Miscetti in Rome and DAS GIFT at the Haunch of Venison in Berlin. In July 2011, Ono was honored with the prestigious 8th Hiroshima Art Prize for her dedicated peace activism, and opened the one-person exhibition THE ROAD OF HOPE at the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art. Also in 2011, she presented her second solo exhibition at Galerie Lelong in New York, UNCURSED. In 2014, a major survey of the artist’s work was exhibited for the first time in Australia at the Museum of Modern Art Australia in Sydney. In 2015, Ono presented a double exhibition, THE RIVERBED, at Galerie Lelong, New York and Andrea Rosen Gallery, as well as Yoko Ono: One Woman Show 1960-1971 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, which reinforced her influence as one of the most important cultural change agents. In 2019, Ono presented Refugee Boat, a re-imagining of her 1960 work, Add Color which calls attention to the history of immigrants and refugees in the United States. Major recent exhibitions include Yoko Ono: Four Works for Washington and the World at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; Yoko Ono: From my Window at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Yoko Ono: Lumiere, MAC Lyon, Lyon; Dream Come True, MALBA, Buenos Aires; and Yoko Ono: Golden Ladders at the Faurschou Foundation, Beijing.


Born in Tokyo, Japan, in 1933, Yoko Ono lives and works in New York City.

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