Kathe Kollwitz for breakfast because her prints inspired me to study printmaking, so emotional, confident and anti war.
James Baldwin for lunch because his writing helped me understand America, also emotional, confident and a voice that rings true for civil rights so many years after his death.
Q: How did you meet Yoko?
John Lennon: There was a sort of underground clique in London; John Dunbar, who was married to Marianne Faithfull, had an art gallery in London called Indica, and I’d been going around to galleries a bit on me off days in between records, also to a few exhibitions in different galleries that showed sort of unknown artists or underground artists.
I got the word that this amazing woman was putting on a show the next week, something about people in bags, in black bags, and it was going to be a bit of a happening and all that. So I went to a preview the night before it opened. I went in - she didn’t know who I was or anything - and I was wandering around. There were a couple of artsy-type students who had been helping, lying around there in the gallery, and I was looking at it and was astounded. 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. It was two hundred quid to watch the fresh apple decompose.
But it was another piece that really decided me for or against the artist: a ladder that led to a painting, which was hung on the ceiling. It looked like a white canvas with a chain with a spyglass hanging on the end of it. I climbed the ladder, looked through the spyglass, and in tiny little letters it said, YES.
So it was positive. 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.