John Lennon Signed Bag One Erotic Litho
This brilliantly moving and haunting limited edition lithograph of perhaps John's finest erotic lithograph was the last of 14 he created over 1969-70 when, moved to pen and ink etchings in the blush of falling in love with Yoko Ono, he expressed feelings of uninhibited sexuality she had liberated in him and exhibited them under the name of "Bag One, The Erotic Lithographs." Many of these amazing lithos hadn't been seen publicly for three decades until five years after John's death. Then, saying she was "keeping a silent promise to share John's love with the rest of the world," Yoko began producing a series of prints from John's original drawings. Some were produced in series of 300, the more intimate and deeply emotional erotic ones in smaller runs -- with this print of a nude John and Yoko, with John lying down embracing Yoko propped up behind him, one of the smallest, as the print carries the notation "XXXIV/VL" (34/40) in the lower left corner. John had begun the erotic artwork at the time of his marriage and the Amsterdam "Bed-In," creating tastefully erotic drawings of the marriage and honeymoon, and when he wanted to turn them into lithographs he thought up "Bag One" to title the set. Critics who saw them were taken with their vitality, their simplicity of line, and especially the overall quality of the work, and 12 images were selected for the final set of lithographs, with famed master-lithographers the Crommylynck Brothers (Picasso's personal printmakers) overseeing production at the Curwen Studio. It was at Curwen that John created this particular image and added it to the collection, now 14. A marketing strategy then rolled out with 300 (the original litho run) specially designed "bags" designed by Ted Lapidus and hand-stitched by craftsmen in Italy. John then hand-signed the 300 lithos while on a trip to Canada for the Peace Festival. The first exhibition of the set was at the London Arts Gallery in January 1970 but on the second day of the exhibition, the police raided the gallery and eight of the lithographs were confiscated as "obscene." The case was dismissed when the magistrate decided that John's prints were "unlikely to deprave or corrupt." The American opening of Bag One was a lavish affair at the Lee Nordness Gallery in New York, where the city's art scene and the "beautiful people" turned out. (Dali came with his pet ocelot on a leash.) However, John's artistic passion cooled, and the lithos were left unseen for years. This, arguably John's best work, measures 23 x 29" and is in near pristine condition with large Lennon signature. The litho, beautifully mounted on white heavy stock in a centerpiece area within a white matte surface surrounding the image, is preserved under glass in a magnificent 36 x 44" two-tone gold-black frame that is NRMT. Two small areas of apparent soiling on the upper portion of the litho are due to actually some warping of the glass on the frame. The litho, of course, can be reframed if need be. A great echo of Lennon that, like his music, will never be stilled.