From the erotic to domestic, John Lennon's private sketches finally find an audience
Wednesday 02 September 1998
Some of the artworks are on view for the first time in over two decades in this country. The lithographs, selling for pounds 3,500 each, form part of the "Bag One" portfolio drawn by Lennon as a wedding gift to Yoko Ono. The collection was exhibited in London in January 1970, but was closed down on the second day by Scotland Yard, which confiscated the erotic sketches.
Also on display is a lithograph collection of song lyrics, "The Solo Years" and "The Beatles Years", priced at pounds 1,500.
Alongside Lennon's love lithographs are paintings by the legendary jazz musician Miles Davis and rock stars, including Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones.
Wood's sketches contain scenes from dressing rooms and at home with his family, as well as prints of fellow musicians such as Eric Clapton, Marvin Gaye and Bill Wyman. Prices start at pounds 375.
Other musicians featured include John Lurie, who formed the band Lounge Lizards, and Tico Torres, the drummer with the rock band Bon Jovi.
Some of the most unusual works in the show are by the late Miles Davis. He started painting in 1980, beginning with primitive figures and then experimenting with colour and composition.
The exhibition includes swirling abstracts and strong African-inspired textures. Davis's prints start at pounds 350, drawings from pounds 1,500, and oils from pounds 15,000 upward.
The exhibition at Gallery 27 in Cork Street, central London, was put together by Jonathan Poole, a musician and artist.
Lynne Clifford, managing director of Bag One, which represents the estates of John Lennon and Miles Davis, said yesterday: "John Lennon was classically trained, but Miles Davis was very proud of the fact that he would come at his paintings in the same way he came at his music.
"He thought of them all as composition pieces and would work on his large canvases from several different directions. He would lay one out on the floor and work from top to bottom, and then turn it around."
Financially, the artworks by Lennon will be eclipsed by the price of another piece of Beatles memorabilia.
On 15 September at the Hard Rock Cafe in London, Sotheby's will auction the notebook of the late Mal Evans, the former Beatles road manager.
The notebook contains a draft lyric by Paul McCartney for "Hey Jude", and a reserve price of pounds 150,000 has been put on it.
The draft contains lyrics that did not appear in the eventual song, such as the psychedelic line: "Bow down to the plasticine bananas."
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