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Grapefruit by Yoko Ono (Sphere)

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Feb 19th, 2023. Artwork published in .
Grapefruit by Yoko Ono (Sphere) 1
Source: Heritage Auctions. License: All Rights Reserved.

Grapefruit is a book by Japanese-American artist Yoko Ono. An early example of conceptual art, it contains various event scores, or instruction works. Originally published in 1964 by Ono’s own imprint, Wunternaum Press, in Tokyo, a second edition came out in 1970, by Simon & Schuster in New York, Peter Owen in London, and Bärmeier & Nikel in Frankfurt.

Shown here is the paperback edition by Sphere Books in London from 1971, with more than 200 instruction works divided into seven sections: Music, Painting, Event, Poetry, Object, Film, and Dance. Some of the poem-like instructions begin with the word “Imagine” and have inspired Ono’s husband, John Lennon, to write his most famous song.

The cover design conflates the titular fruit with a reference to Ono’s Film No. 4 (Bottoms), a Fluxus film from 1966 that exclusively shows the naked bottoms of humans walking on a treadmill. The fonts in use are Stencil and what appears to be a version of Bookman Bold Swash, distinguished by a Y with a high crotch. The cover was printed by Acorn Litho Feltham.

“Burn this book after you’ve read it.” – Yoko
“This is the greatest book I’ve ever burned.” – John

Yoko Ono turned 90 this weekend. Happy birthday!

Grapefruit by Yoko Ono (Sphere) 2
Source: Pathis München. License: All Rights Reserved.
Yoko Ono and John Lennon at a book signing for Grapefruit in London
Source: License: All Rights Reserved.

Yoko Ono and John Lennon at a book signing for Grapefruit in London


  • Stencil (ATF)
  • Bookman Bold Swash




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