Monday, June 23, 2014

The Beatles' Only Painting: "Images of a Woman" from Tokyo 1966

"Images of a Woman" by the Beatles (top left: John; top right: Paul; bottom left: Ringo; bottom right; George)

Between June 30 and July 2, 1966, the Beatles were in Tokyo, Japan to play a series of concerts at the Budokan Hall. Because of fanatical Beatlemania from the Japanese fans as well as the fact that it was their first (and only) appearance in Japan, they were virtual prisoners in the Tokyo Hilton Hotel for the duration of their stay. While they were used to this from their tours in years past, by 1966 it began to grate on them and was one of the many reasons they decided to stop touring at the end of the summer. However, in order to pass the time in Tokyo, they decided to work jointly on a painting. The resulting work of art would be the only one created and signed by all four Beatles (although they did also collaborate on a pen and ink drawing "greeting card" for the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, to which they were invited to perform but politely declined).

The Beatles' greeting to the Monterey Pop Festival, June 1967

Working at a table with a lamp at the center of the canvas in order to hold it down and give them some light, each Beatle took a corner and painted what they wanted to in their own style. The resulting white circle at the center of the painting (a result of the lamp covering the canvas) was where they each signed next to their quadrant of art. The resulting piece, titled "Images of a Woman," was given to a prominent Japanese entertainment executive and head of the Japanese Beatles fanclub before they left Tokyo. When he died, his wife sold it in 1989 to a Japanese collector who kept it displayed in his living room before storing it under a bed until 2012, when it was sold again. The full story of its ownership can be found here.

Luckily for us Beatles fans, their friend the photographer Robert Whitaker was traveling with them on tour and managed to take many photographs of them working on the painting. In fact, he recalls that they were at the most relaxed and happy when working on it, and were always keen to get back to the hotel room to work on it after giving their concerts at the Budokan. Inspired by my recent post collecting photographs of the Who at their famous Leeds concert in 1970, I thought it would be fun to do the same for this painting that I've read so much about over the years. Again, NONE OF THESE PHOTOS ARE MINE and I DO NOT own the copyrights to them...they belong to their rightful owners. My purposes for posting them here are simply for fun and enjoyment.

Below are all of the photographs I could find of the Beatles creating this painting, as well as a video of one of their complete concert at the Budokan. If you know of more photos that I could add to this post, please let me know in the comments section below!

The Beatles live at the Budokan 1966

The center of the painting with their autographs

John holding up the finished painting (note that the center circle has not been signed yet!)

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