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John Lennon’s Artwork Returns To Oak Brook, 42 Years After Judge Had It Burned

John Lennon

John Lennon appears in Cannes May 17, 1971, where he presented his movies “Apotheosis” and “The Flu.” (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

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OAK BROOK, Ill. (CBS) — The art work of John Lennon is returning to the Chicago area, more than 40 years after a local judge declared it obscene and ordered it burned.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, in 1970, Lennon mounted a suite of lithographs of his drawings, called Bag One. They were intended to commemorate Lennon’s wedding to Yoko Ono in 1969 and their honeymoon in Amsterdam afterward.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports

Some of the drawings were erotic in nature. As described by the Chicago Sun-Times, they showed naked women lolling, masturbating and even involved in a three-way.

Initially, the lithographs were mounted for a two-week exhibition at a London Arts Gallery on Jan. 5, 1970. But Scotland Yard raided the gallery and confiscated eight of the 14 sketches, on the grounds that they were pornographic, according to published reports. That case was dismissed.

But the lithographs also drew complaints in Toronto, and most of all, in DuPage County.

The artworks had been on display at Merrill Chase’s Oak Brook gallery in March 1970, in a show restricted to adults 21 and over.

But as the Chicago Sun-Times recalls, DuPage County Chief Circuit Judge Bert J. Rathje did not just order five lithographs to be removed from the exhibit in an obscenity raid, but had them confiscated and burned.

But now, Lennon’s artwork – including the risqué drawings that were burned in their lithograph form – are coming back to Oak Brook. They will be appearing at the DoubleTree Hotel in Oak Brook, in the exhibit “The Art of John Lennon: A Return to Oak Brook.”

The Sun-Times points out that the erotic artworks represented a small minority of those that were mounted in the 1970 show. One, “Dream Power,” shows a couple nestled underneath a tree, while another, “An Elephant Counting,” shows an insomniac pink elephant counting sheep as he sits awake in bed.

The gallery show will benefit Gilda’s Club Chicago, one of many community centers to support people with cancer, established in the memory of Gilda Radner, the Sun-Times reported.