In the foreword to the new John Lennon: The Collected Artwork, Yoko Ono tells the story of her first encounter with her future husband. "He met me when I was doing an art show in London," she writes. "He said he could have done it, too. 'Well, you can still do it. Why don't you?' I said. 'No, I can't. I'm a Beatle.'
"There was a touch of sadness in his voice. He was right."
A half-century later, Lennon's extra-musical activities are well known and much appreciated, but the subsequent volume attempts to make the definitive case for the singer's talent as a visual artist. Its sketches are minimalist, emotional, funny and charming. Taken together, they show a man with a keen sense of humor and a deep love for his family.
"Lennon's art changed considerably over time," Scott Gutterman, deputy director of New York's Neue Galerie, writes in the introduction. "The freewheeling figures he drew in his twenties gave way to sophisticated line drawings depicting his newfound daily life, including his sojourns in Japan and his delight in becoming a father to Sean. . . In a sense, just as Lennon united with Ono as her partner, he also took on her approach as an artist, in which the separation between art and life was blurred, even erased."
Look through a gallery of Lennon's best work, presented alongside a pair of photos that are included in the book.