John Lennon is a hero of mine for his incredible music and activism. Lennon wrote many powerful songs with the Beatles, including “Revolution,” “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” “Come Together,” “Dear Prudence,” and “All You Need is Love.” However, Lennon did some of his most potent and brave work as a solo artist. Listen to the lyrics of “Imagine,” “Gimme Some Truth,” “Instant Karma,” “Give Peace a Chance,” “Power To The People,” or “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” demonstrate a profound reflection on the struggles of humanity. Those songs were amazing statements, and Lennon and Yoko Ono funded campaigns like WAR IS OVER to promote peace and end the Vietnam War. John and Yoko were persecuted for their politics, and the U.S. government under Nixon made several attempts to deport Lennon. Understanding that context, Bob Gruen’s photo of John Lennon in front of the Statue of Liberty is extremely compelling. Lennon was a world citizen and an advocate of peace and liberty. The Statue of Liberty also symbolizes welcoming immigrants to the United States, so the idea of deporting Lennon is especially disturbing juxtaposed with the statue. I have loved Bob Gruen’s photos since I was a teenager because he shot incredible pics of the Sex Pistols and the Clash. His body of work has amazing range, and his photos often document critical players and cultural moments. I’m honored to collaborate with Bob on these Lennon prints.
The US government, under the direction of President Richard Nixon, perceived John Lennon as a political threat because he was talking of peace in a time of war. They moved to have him deported from the country. I personally felt that was wrong and seeing the Statue of Liberty as a symbol of welcome to the United States, I felt that if we took a picture of John Lennon at the Statue of Liberty it would help dramatize his case for staying in the country. I suggested to John that we take a picture in front of the Statue and I was thrilled when he agreed. I think this photo is popular now because people relate to John Lennon as a symbol of personal freedom similar to the way people feel about the Statue of Liberty.
Lennon Peace and Liberty (Two Colorways: Blue & Red). 18 x 24 inches. Screen print on thick cream Speckletone paper. Original Illustration based on a photograph by Bob Gruen. Signed by Shepard Fairey and Bob Gruen. Numbered edition of 300. Comes with a Digital Certificate of Authenticity provided by Verisart. A limited amount of matching numbered sets will be available for $170. Sold separately for $85. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to ACLU and The Statue of Liberty Foundation. Available on Thursday, August 17th @ 10 AM PDT at https://store.obeygiant.com. Max order: 1 per customer/household. International customers are responsible for import fees due upon delivery (Except UK orders under $160). ALL SALES FINAL.