Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Images of a Woman (Beatles, 1966)

Images of a Woman is the only known painting of the Beatles. The oil and watercolour artwork was created by The Beatles in June and July 1966, while on tour in Tokyo. Tight security measures meant they were unable to leave their suite at the Hilton hotel for three nights, so they collaborated on a painting which became known as Images Of A Woman.

After the concert, the four of them continued working on the painting while listening to acetates of Revolver and smoking some pot. A different picture from the same evening is reprinted in The Beatles Anthology book, although Images of a Woman is shown in The Artwork of the Beatles; a book I used to possess, but which I had to part with. Now, like the painting, its worth a pretty penny. I think in that  book they said The Beatles dropped acid whilst making this painting. 

Each Beatle painted parts of the 30"x40" paper, working by the light of a lamp in the centre. When the painting was complete the lamp was removed, and The Beatles signed the empty space next to their contributions. The paper and paints were provided by Japanese promoter Tats Nagashima, who suggested that the completed painting be auctioned for charity. It was subsequently bought by a cinema manager and local fan club president Tetsusaburo Shimoyama.

The painting was auctioned off by the original owner’s wife in 1989, ending up in the hands of a collector (and huge Beatles fan) named Takao Nishino who paid the equivalent of half a million dollars for it; only to run out of wall space three years later. After purchasing a special humidity-controlled frame, he decided to box it up and slide it under his bed, where it’s mostly stayed for the last 20 years. Says Nishino now, “Originally, I thought it might be best kept as a piece of Japan’s cultural heritage; it has never left Japanese soil in 46 years. But the Beatles phenomenon was and remains a global one.”

In September 2012 it was put up for sale again through Philip Weiss Auctions in New York. The painting had a pre-auction estimate of $80,000 to $120,000, but sold for $155,250 including the buyer's premium.

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