John Lennon sitzt auf einer Mauer
Bob-Gruen-John-Lennon-on-the-roof-of-his-East-52nd-Street-penthouse-New-York-1974 © Estate of John Lennon and Yoko Ono

07.05 - 14.08.2016

John Lennon Imagine

The exhibition "Imagine: John Lennon" searches for one of the most important and most enigmatic personalities in pop history.

Kunstverein Herford

The song "Imagine" is one of the classics of pop music. Released in 1971, this song describes a world free of war, free of nationalism and private property. As a call for humanity and peace, "Imagine" became the anthem of the international peace movement. At the same time, "Imagine" can also be considered the centerpiece of John Lennon's artistic and political legacy. The exhibition "Imagine John Lennon" presents the musical, poetic, artistic and political commitment of John Lennon and documents his most important biographical stages in the form of song lyrics, objects, photos, videos, drawings and lithographs.

John Winston Lennon was born in Liverpool on October 9, 1940. His musical and artistic talent was evident from a young age, when he began to learn to play a variety of musical instruments. He also impressed those around him with parodies, small nonsense texts and cartoonish drawings, poems and short stories. At first he presented his children's drawings on a LP-cover and asked to keep them carefully because one day he would be famous.

From 1957 to 1960 he consequently studied art at the Liverpool College of Art, where he also met his first wife, Cynthia. The emerging rock 'n' roll had an increasing influence on the young John Lennon, and especially the music of Elvis Presley encouraged his desire to become a musician. On Lennon's musical and organizational initiative, the legendary band "The Beatles" emerged at the end of the 1950s from a series of precursor bands, which was to become the most successful band in music history to date, with more than one billion records sold.

Inspired by Bob Dylan, John Lennon also established himself as a serious songwriter from 1964. The track "In My Life" was voted the best song of all time by the British music magazine Mojo. After the end of their legendary tours, the Beatles devoted themselves entirely to studio work. Lennon composed "Strawberry Fields Forever" in 1967, which is also considered a masterpiece. For the first television program broadcast worldwide, "Our World", Lennon wrote "All You Need Is Love", the "anthem of the Summer of Love".

On March 20, 1969, John Lennon married the Japanese avant-garde artist Yoko Ono in Gibraltar. On March 31, 1969, the couple finished their week-long "bed-in" in Amsterdam. Lennon and Ono had been working together under the title "Hair Peace. Bed Peace." from March 26, they had given daily interviews at the Hilton Hotel, dressed in white from their white-covered beds, in order to set a visible sign for peace. During the "Bed-In" in Montreal, the track "Give Peace a Chance" was recorded, which made it to the charts worldwide in July of that year. In November, Lennon returned the Order of the British Empire, which he had received with the other Beatles in 1965. He cited Britain's involvement in the two wars in Biafra and Vietnam as the main reason.

In December 1969, Lennon and Ono organized the "War Is Over" poster and billboard campaign to promote peace. The posters were seen in many major cities around the world, including New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Tokyo, Rome and Berlin. Their message was: WAR IS OVER! IF YOU WANT IT!

In April 1973, John Lennon and Yoko Ono moved into an apartment in the Dakota Building on 72nd Street in New York. There they proclaimed the fictitious state "NUTOPIA", a country that knew neither borders nor passports. The national anthem "NUTOPIAs" consisted of three seconds of silence and was released on the album "Mind Games".

On December 8, 1980, John Lennon is shot dead by a mentally deranged assassin in New York at around 10:50 p.m.. Lennon's death triggers a wave of horror internationally. The song "Imagine" reached the top of all single charts only after his death and thus became the political and musical legacy of one of the most enigmatic artistic personalities of the 20th century.