Yoko Ono

instruction pieces

From the book Yoko Ono: Instruction Paintings (1995)

"Thirty years ago, in 1962, I did an exhibition of instruction paintings at Sogetsu Art Center in Tokyo. A year before, I did a show of instruction paintings at AG Gallery in New York, but that was exhibiting canvases with instructions attached to them. Displaying just the instructions as paintings was going one step further, pushing visual art to its optimum conceptualism; it would open up a whole new horizon for the visual arts. I was totally excited by the idea and its visual possibilities. To make the point that the instructions were not themselves graphic images, I wanted the instructions to be typed."

Yoko Ono in 1966 at Indica Gallery, London

"Instruction painting separates painting into two different functions: the instructions and the realization. The work becomes a reality only when others realize the work. Instructions can be realized by different people in many different ways. This allows infinite transformation of the work that the artist himself cannot foresee, and brings the concept of "time" into painting. It immediately eliminates the usual emphasis put on the original painting, and art comes down from the pedestal.

Instruction painting makes it possible to explore the invisible, the world beyond the concept of time and space. And then, sometimes later, the instructions themselves will disappear and be properly forgotten."

Yoko Ono in 1966 "To the Wesleyan people"

"My paintings, which are all instruction paintings (and meant for others to do), came after collage & assemblage (1915) and happening (1905) came into the art world. Considering the nature of my painting, any of above three words or a new word can be used instead of the word "painting". But I like the old word "painting" because it immediately connects with "wall painting" painting, and it is nice and funny. Among my instruction paintings, my interest is mainly in "painting to be constructed in your head." In your head, for instance, it is possible for a straight line to exist - not as a segment of a curve but as a straight line. Also, a line can be straight, curved or something else at the same time. A dot can exist as a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, dimensional object all at the same time or at various times in different combinations as you wish to perceive.

The movement of the molecule can be continuum and discontinuum at the same time. It can be with color and / or without. There is no visual object that does not exist in comparison to or simultaneously with other objects, but these characteristics can be eliminated if you wish.

A sunset can go on for days. You can eat up all the clouds in the sky. You can assemble a painting with a person in the North Pole over a phone, like playing chess. The painting method derives from as far back as the time of the Second World War when we had no food to eat, and my brother and I exchanged menus in the air."

Instruction pieces and Grapefruit

The instruction pieces have been printed in the different versions of her book of instructions, Grapefruit, and in book published by Weatherhill in 1995, Yoko Ono: Instruction Paintings.

In 1999, Yoko Ono created a new set of instruction paintings: Imagine, Yes, Touch, Fly, Breathe, Reach, Forget, Feel, Dream, Open, Remember. These new instruction paintings are linen canvases painted with single words such as Imagine and Feel. In 2000, she created ceramic versions of these instructions during Yoko Ono Ebro.

Also, there are instructions for photographs, films and dance by Yoko Ono.

arrow Yoko Ono's Grapefruit in the AIU bibliography
arrow Selected instruction pieces by Yoko Ono
arrow Yoko Ono's "A Grapefruit In The World Of Park"




© Sari Gurney
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