Since emerging onto the international art scene in the early 1960s, Yoko Ono has made profound contributions to visual art, performance, filmmaking, and experimental music. Born in Tokyo in 1933, she moved with her family to New York in the mid-1950s and enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College. Over the next decade, she lived in New York, Tokyo, and London, greatly influencing the international development of Fluxus and Conceptual art.
Ono’s earliest works were often based on instructions that she communicated to the public in verbal or written form. Painting to Be Stepped On (1960–61), for example, invited people to tread upon a piece of canvas placed directly on the floor, either physically or in their minds. Though easily overlooked, the work radically questioned the division between art and the everyday. In 1964, she compiled more than 150 of her instructions in her groundbreaking artist’s book, Grapefruit. The instructions range from feasible to improbable, often relying upon the reader’s imagination to complete the work. At turns poetic, humorous, unsettling, and idealistic, Ono’s early instruction pieces anticipated her later work, such as Cut Piece (1964), a performance in which people were invited to cut away portions of her clothing; Sky Machine (1966), a sculpture that speaks to her environmental concerns; and To See the Sky (2015), a spiral staircase installed beneath a skylight that visitors were invited to ascend in order to contemplate the sky.
It is unclear what the actual illness is that the artist has been living with, although it was reported in 2016 that she was hospitalized in New York City with flu-like symptoms. She was admitted to the same hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital, where her husband was pronounced dead in 1980 after being shot.
She is currently using a wheelchair and has spoken of a mystery “illness”, reports the Mirror.