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Yoko Ono was born in Tokyo on February 18, 1933. At the age of eighteen she moved to New York with her family, where she studied music at Sarah Lawrence College. Despite her parents’ disapproval, she married a fellow student in 1956 and moved to Manhattan, where she supported herself by teaching in public schools. Her loft on Chambers Street soon became a focal point in the New York art scene; Ono often hosted music and poetry happenings and other types of performances. During the time her art was mainly conceptual. In 1961 she had her first exhibition at the gallery of George Maciunas, the founder of the Fluxus group, which the artist was later to join. In the same year she also presented her own performances, sometimes in collaboration with John Cage. The critics’ response to these performances was not always favorable.
After emerging from a period of depression with the help of her second husband, musician and producer Anthony Cox, Ono resumed her artistic career, and in 1965 she presented the performance Cut Piece, during which the audience was invited to cut off pieces of her clothing until she was completely naked. The following year she went to England to exhibit at the Indiga Gallery in London and met John Lennon, who she married in 1969. During this time she made experimental films, collaborated with Lennon to make experimental music, and got him involved in public performances for world peace. In 1971 she took her investigation into audience involvement a step further by organizing an imaginary exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, wherein she filmed the audience that she considered to be the true work of art.
After Lennon’s tragic death in 1980, she remained active both in music and the visual arts, producing such installations as En Trance (1990) and Wish Tree (1996), and manipulated photographic images for the works From My Window (2002) and Odyssey of a Cockroach (2003). The Japan Society of New York presented a retrospective of Ono’s work in 2000, which was then exhibited in seven North American museums. In 2003 she took part in the Venice Biennale and in 2004 had a solo exhibition at the Museum Kappa, Prague. In September of the same year she presented her video installation Onochord in Venice. She currently lives in New York.