Yoko Ono: One Woman Show: 1960–1971

*Painting to be Stepped On*

Yoko Ono. Painting to be Stepped On. 1960/1961

Yoko Ono. Painting to Be Stepped On. 1960/1961. Installation view, Paintings & Drawings by Yoko Ono, AG Gallery, New York, July 17–30, 1961. Photo: George Maciunas. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift, 2008. © 2015 George Maciunas

Curator, Christophe Cherix: In July 1961, George Maciunas, an architect, designer, and co-director of the AG Gallery offered Ono her first solo show.

Yoko Ono: And I said, "Oh my god, this is the first time somebody wanted to do my show." I went to an Army surplus shop. There was a rolled canvas – it was just in a corner. I said could I buy this? He said "sure." And I went home to the loft, and I started to cut pieces.

And I just felt so good about it because I never thought I wanted to do it, like, you know, stretch the canvas. I thought that was rather contrived, and everybody was doing that.

So I kept cutting, and, when I wanted to do Painting to Be Stepped On, I didn't have enough canvas. So then I realized that after I did Water Painting, and after cutting the circle, there was a kind of strange shape that was you know, remaining there. I said, well, this will be a Painting to Be Stepped On, why not?

And I thought that was beautiful, you know, different kind of beauty. And the fact that each one had a function that was totally different from each other, and that, too, I thought was very important.

So it was a very strange show. It's right in the middle of the summer and was very hot in New York. I think the first opening, five people came. One was John Cage, one was Isamu Noguchi. And whenever they came, I started to explain what the function of each painting was.

And I thought, well, I can't do that. I just have to have something written, you know? Each one had an instructions.

I just wanted to make those things. And I wasn't thinking how many people saw it or, you know, that kind of thing. In other words, there was a certain pride in what I did, for myself.

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