A global first and an absolute must see for any Beatles fan, The Double Fantasy – John and Yoko Exhibition is a personal insight into their private and public relationship. Beautifully set out and spanning over half of the top floor of the museum, the chronological exhibition is full of personal items, filmed interviews, interactive exhibits and photographs from the period 1966-1981. Some of the items on show have never been displayed before. It also shows unseen video footage of the couple which will captivate fans old and new.
As Lennon and Yoko’s timeless music is played over the speakers, you are taken on a very moving and emotional journey through one of the most honest, complex and beautiful love stories of all time.
1. YOKOS ORIGINAL ART FROM THEIR FIRST MEETING
Understanding love is not easy, especially that of a world famous English musician and a Japanese leading figure in the avant-garde art world, who’s joining came under close media scrutiny. This is where the exhibition excels, giving you a glimpse of Johns devotion to Yoko and vice versa, starting with Lennon and Yoko’s meeting at the Indica Gallery, in Mayfair, London.
The Indica was the happening place for contemporary artists in the sixties and was supported in its early years by Paul McCartney. Yoko was showing her ‘Unfinished Paintings and Objects’ exhibition and Lennon was invited to the gallery to see Ono’s works the day before the show opened.
“I had no idea when I met this man in my gallery how everything would change… nothing was ever the same again”
Yoko Ono to the Daily Mail
Initially, sceptical at the exhibition and the artist herself, who had greeted him with a card that read “breathe.”
Replicas of these exact cards are there for attendees to take free of charge.
Johns mood lightened when he saw a piece that caught his eye ‘Ceiling painting’. Ono had placed a ladder that led up to a canvas on the ceiling with some tiny writing that required the use of a magnifying glass to read it.
“And in tiny little letters it says ‘yes.’ So it was positive” Lennon told Rolling Stone in 1971. “I felt relieved. It’s a great relief when you get up the ladder and you look through the spyglass and it doesn’t say ‘no’ or ‘fuck you’ or something, it said ‘yes’.”
This part of the exhibition also shows Yoko’s ‘Painting to Hammer a Nail’ and ‘Apple’.
“Then he saw the apple. You know, he didn’t say anything. He just grabbed it and had a bite in it. Apple was a fresh apple on an installation like this. And he just grabbed it and bit it and looked at me like, you know, “There!” you know? I was so furious, I didn’t know what to say. And it all showed in my face: How dare this person, you know, mess around with my work? So he just said, “I’m sorry”, and just put it on the stand again” Yoko Ono
“There was an apple on sale there for two hundred quid; I thought it was fantastic – I got the humor in her work immediately. I didn’t have to have much knowledge about avant-garde or underground art, the humor got me straightaway. There was a fresh apple on a stand – this was before Apple – and it was two hundred quid to watch the apple decompose.” John Lennon
2. ICONIC CLOTHING
Throughout his life John had a standout style, with key pieces cementing themselves as Lennon. Throughout the exhibition visitors can gaze not only at Johns personal items such as his ‘New York City’ t-shirt and the iconic army shirt, but also at items from John and Yoko’s wedding outfits.
‘NEW YORK CITY’ T-SHIRT
This photo of a 34 year-old John Lennon donning a New York City sleeveless shirt on a rooftop in New York has become one of his most iconic photos. The photo was taken by Lennon’s photographer and friend Bob Gruen in 1974 at Lennon’s rented New York penthouse apartment.
“John had been in the city awhile,” said photographer Gruen. “He was becoming a New Yorker.”
John and Yoko married in Gibraltar in March 1969, Yoko wore a simple cute mini two piece, which was seen as quite a controversial choice even in the late ’60s. She wore white knee-high socks, tennis shoes, oversized sunglasses and a felt sunhat, looking every inch a hippy ’60s bride. Both John’s white jacket and Yoko’s mini skirt feature as part of the exhibition. Better remembered than Yoko’s unusual wedding attire, was probably the couple’s honeymoon that was to follow.
“We decided that if we were going to do anything like get married that we would dedicate it to peace” John Lennon
After the ceremony, John and Yoko set off to the presidential suite of the Hilton hotel in Amsterdam to honeymoon, where they took to the large bed and stayed there while the world’s media gathered round to take pictures. Their ‘bed-in’ lasted for seven days.
The U.S. Army shirt/jacket worn by John Lennon on the cover of the “Live in New York” album has to be the second most famous article of clothing that he ever wore.
3. BED IN
John and Yoko were huge activists for peace, they took a very active role in trying to persuade people to protest against the Vietnam War using their fame, influence and status in the public eye to their full advantage. This theme dominates the exhibition with a huge ‘War Is Over – If You Want It’ and ‘Give Peace A Chance’ wording adorning the walls. Amongst the many things John and Yoko did, one of the most famous demonstrations for peace, was host bed-ins.
‘There is an alternative to war. It’s staying in bed and growing your hair.’ John Lennon
Together John & Yoko peacefully protested against War and asked the world for peace. John and Yoko did bed-ins in Montreal and Amsterdam. They recorded “Give Peace a Chance” in Montreal, which became a very famous anti-war song.
Items from John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Montreal ‘Bed-In For Peace’ are on show including the acoustic Gibson guitar, illustrated on by John and the original Hair Peace/Bed Peace sign. These were a personal highlight for me.
To be honest, I could write twenty reasons not to miss this exhibition, as few are curated this beautifully but I don’t want to give too much away. Detailing the lives of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, from before their first meeting to their rise to stardom, everything you could ever want to know about the famous couple, is here – warts and all.
Taking a trip down to the Docks at Liverpool to experience it yourself is a must, but don’t forget your hanky.
“We were a very simple couple just loving each other every day and I just wanted to show the simple truth of us. In our personal life we were pretty simple people, and we made all sorts of things with love for each other. Everything was made out of love. We found that we were both very strongly interested in world peace. I feel John and I are still working together. I always feel his warmth next to me. I am so happy and grateful that we are having our Double Fantasy -John & Yoko show in Liverpool. This is where John was born and I know John would be very happy too.” Yoko Ono
The free exhibition continues at the Museum of Liverpool until April 22 – 2019.