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Ceiling Painting/Yes Painting

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Ceiling Painting/Yes Painting is a 1966 conceptual artwork by the Japanese artist Yoko Ono.


The work is made from paper, glass, a metal frame, a metal chain, a magnifying glass, and a painted ladder. The word YES is printed on the piece of paper.[1] The work is interactive, with the viewer (or participant) expected to climb the ladder and use a magnifying glass to look at the word "YES" which is printed on paper beneath a sheet of glass suspended from the ceiling.[1]


The work was shown at Ono's autumn 1966 show, Unfinished Paintings and Objects By Yoko Ono at the Indica Gallery in London.[1] Two different ladders were used by Ono in the New York and subsequent London showing of the piece.[2] The piece was displayed at Ono's 2014 retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.[1]

The relationship of the participant to the piece has changed in subsequent decades. At a retrospective in 2000, Ceiling Painting/Yes Painting was displayed on a pedestal with physical interaction no longer possible. Interaction with Ono's Painting to Hammer a Nail was equally limited, with the piece having been displayed behind plexiglass.[2]

The preview night of Ono's INDICA exhibition on 9 November 1966 was visited by the musician John Lennon who had heard that "this amazing woman was going to be putting on a show...and it was going to be a bit of a happening". Lennon was initially impressed by the humour of Ono's work Apple, and later said of his interaction with Ceiling Painting/Yes Painting that he had "climbed the ladder, looked through the spyglass, and in tiny little letters it said 'yes'...So it was positive. I felt relieved".[3] Lennon's initial interaction with Ceiling Painting/Yes Painting was depicted in the Canadian playwright Jean Yoon's 2002 play The Yoko Ono Project.[4]

The positive message of the piece attracted Lennon to Ono, the pair were subsequently introduced with neither apparently knowing much about each other's creative work.[3] Ono recalled in a 2014 interview with art critic Jonathan Jones for The Guardian that "The ladder John had to climb up was very high" with Jones writing that the "smallness of the yes and the difficulty of reaching it" reflected Ono's pain after the breakup of a recent relationship.[5]


Ceiling Painting/Yes Painting has been described by Ono as being representative of a journey towards hope and affirmation from pain. The difficulty in attaining hope and affirmation has been likened by Ono to the intimidating stature of a cathedral.[6]

The relationship between Ceiling Painting/Yes Painting and Ono's 1964 work Cut Piece was extensively critiqued by James M. Harding in his essay "Between Material and Matrix: Yoko Ono's Cut Piece and the Unmaking of Collage" in his 2012 book of essays, Cutting Performances: Collage Events, Feminist Artists, and the American Avant-Garde.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d "Ceiling Painting, Yes Painting". Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b Martha Buskirk (12 April 2012). Creative Enterprise: Contemporary Art Between Museum and Marketplace. A&C Black. p. 156. ISBN 978-1-4411-8820-5.
  3. ^ a b Nell Beram; Carolyn Boriss-Krimsky (1 February 2012). Yoko Ono: Collector of Skies. Abrams. ISBN 978-1-61312-513-7.
  4. ^ Jean Yoon; Yōko Ono (2002). The Yoko Ono Project. Broken Jaw Press. p. 37. ISBN 978-1-55391-001-5.
  5. ^ Jonathan Jones (journalist) (13 March 2014). "Yoko Ono show at Guggenheim shines light on pioneering conceptual artist". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  6. ^ "Ceiling Painting, Yes Painting". The Art Story. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  7. ^ James M. Harding (26 June 2012). Cutting Performances: Collage Events, Feminist Artists, and the American Avant-Garde. University of Michigan Press. p. 93. ISBN 0-472-03520-7.
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Ceiling Painting/Yes Painting
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