By Nell Beram and Carolyn Boriss-Krimsky
Amulet Books, 180 pages, $28
"Everybody knows her name," John Lennon once said about Yoko Ono. "But nobody knoews what she does."
Though she became famous as "the woman who broke up the Beatles," Ono was an established avant-garde artist before she met Lennon. This intelligent -- though occasionally overly adoring -- authorized biography goes beyond the usual "ballad of John and Yoko."
Authors Nell Beram and Carolyn Boriss-Krimsky look at Ono alone, revealing an original, independent woman who has broken a lot of ground as an artist, activist and feminist.
Beram, a journalist, and Boriss-Krimsky, a visual artist and art writer, proceed chronologically, beginning with Ono's birth into a wealthy and aristocratic Japanese family.
The young Yoko went to school with the sons of Emperor Hirohito. The family lived in both Japan and the U.S., and Ono grew up feeling neither Eastern nor Western, an outsider attitude that became crucial to her creative life.
After a brief first marriage to Japanese composer Toshi Ichiyanagi, Ono became involved in the radical redefinition of art in 1960s New York. Using hybrid art forms such as text pieces, performance, experimental sound, music and video, she developed conceptual and collaborative works that needed to be "completed" in the minds of audience members. Ono wanted to break down barriers between life and art.
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