Part II of the John Lennon Drawings
John Lennon's personality characteristic was of 'entering' obsessions. I use the word 'entering' on purpose as he would extract energy from the 'entry' before exhausting it and leaving it totally spent. It's a characteristic of a lot of creative geniuses which is what John certainly was. Nietzsche termed it the power, or force of the will. You concentrate so hard, so determined on one aspect or goal until you have literally exhausted all the 'energy' from it. Likewise, this has an osmotic effect as the energy 'power' transforms yourself at the same creative time. A part of you becomes different, and yes, it is a 'Triumph of the Will' which dynamically fuses the creative double power of both the self and the purpose of the 'will' in question which then fuses itself into the 'life force'. So far, all very Nietzschean, all very cosmic, all very 'Hitlerian'. Part of some philosophically grouped late 19th century, early 20th century philosophical excursion of which can only detain us momentarily before we quickly move into practicalities of our own existence.
There's just one problem. This works and it happens and it will alter lives and we can prove it with these tremulous line drawings of John's.
You see, when John went to the Liverpool Art School as a gangling art student he wasn't very good. Not poor certainly, but average, perhaps just under average. Definitely not in the top quartile, definitely not the student of the year provoking hushed gazes as some artwork left his pen. No, that wasn't John. Anonymous, he virtually merged into the wallpaper. Just another hopeful. Then two things happened. One, he 'discovered' Adolf Hitler and thus a creative force he could readily identify with almost compulsively, almost one ready-made, another outsider and one so real, so immediate and so touchable. After all it was still living memory in the late 1950s/early 1960s. The 'comet' of Adolf Hitler had passed through the sky leaving a pulsating trail of light glowing and winking as it passed into history.
The second manifestation was that John fell seriously in love with a fellow art student, Cynthia Powell, from Wirrel.
"John and I were of the same background, you know, lower middle class," Cynthia mused to me. "He just latched on to me, quite persistent. I wasn't really interested at first, as to be honest, I thought him a but peculiar, and I don't particularly like intensive people and John was very intensive. At first I just ignored him, then I found him funny and amusing. Eventually I fell in love with him. It was the first serious love of my life."
Only now do I dearly wish I had asked her the supporting questions of:
-"Did he feel he had developed in you to become a creative whole?"
-"Would you now say, on reflection, that it was a relationship of two persons in the same life, or two lives living through John's intensive personality?"
-"Did you feel the relationship changed John, or just enhanced his personality into the creative fields of drawing and music?"
I know, they sound like psycho-babble questions. The sort the psychiatrist used to mouth to Tony Soprano in the Sopranos. Before, of course, extracting a large fee. Nonetheless, and with that caveat fully entered into, I would have found them interesting. Sheer shyness prevented me. I'm quite prepared to be honest with MTA readers. If you really want to know, that is, if you really want to know, I used to be ingratiating with her when she telephoned me. The personification of shy charm... and from such a younger man... who was so admiring... so worshipful almost.
In addition, I knew it was playing so well with her. Of course I feel so shameful about it now. Now that she's died and that all of you reading this, as well as the writer, will have to form part of that same que. That's what 'judgment' or 'judgment day' means you know, you self-judge your own life. It's in the Bible, and the Koran, and other tomes. All there, waiting for us, but it's only this National Socialist meaning that's accurate.
Anyway... I did ask her the obvious questions which will bring us to the substance of this MTA entry:
Q: "Did John always use you as a model for life drawings, and did he have
A: "Well, we had a life class option at the school. I think John attended a couple of them, maybe more. I forget. I did used to 'pose' for him, usually on the weekends, especially on Sunday."
Q: "How swift was his execution - I mean did he know what 'pose' and 'angle' he wanted from you?"
A: "More or less. Sometimes it was just what I thought and John went along with it. It didn't always come from John."
Q: "Did he always draw quickly, unhesitatingly so to speak, or more considered and careful?" (the word I wanted to avoid was laboriously!!)
A: "Oh, dashing. Very fast and assured. Almost in passing. He would sometimes show them to me whilst I was still in poise. John always said that the first impression - how you see it in the instant was always the best and the most vibrant. Always a well-used word of his - 'vibrant'."
I spied this cutting in the U.K.'s Mail on Sunday, 18th September, 2016 in The Event magazine section. I clipped it out for MTA readers specifically for this section. When reading it please take fully Hockney's words of 'economically line drawings', and using lines to suggest detail. Please remember that 'less' very often means 'more' in these drawings as Hockney explains.
Now we can examine John's drawings of the naked Cynthia, and more. I'll start with the two inscribed drawings of 'Cynthia Love John' and 'Lovely Cyn'. On the verso (reverse) of the former are two pencil outlines by John of Cynthia and on the latter another random sketch again in pencil. The former drawing shows fully the sprawled, naked, almost inviting body of Cynthia brilliantly executed by John in fast suggestive lines. You can almost sense the naturalness of the young woman. The left arm casually covering her eyes. Without actually knowing it you can see her sprawled on the end of a bed, with the sun shining through a window warming her shimmering naked body, which is almost glowing with sensuality.
All executed in suggestive lines. Truly a drawing of genius. Almost certainly done at the same 'session' as the latter, again with the same confident lines depicts the voluptuous Cynthia raising her arms to the sun sitting on the edge of, presumably, the same bed. John has sensually suggested the arching of her back and buttocks in one large confident 'S' line. Her body literally flows through the drawing which is all accomplished by a series of curves. In my mind's eye I can see John drawing her in adoration. Lovely Cyn indeed.
The third drawing of John and Cynthia in a heart inscribed "CYN JOHN" is truly fascinating. When I asked her about it she laughed and said that "It was done in a mirror attached to the inside of a wardrobe door. In fact we were the other way around."
Of course what makes it so intimate is being contained in the heart. If we look and examine the drawing carefully we can see the complete togetherness they enjoyed at the time. John's whole body is relaxed and calm. Cynthia's just ever so slightly more purposeful, seemingly about to embrace John with a warm, naked love which he will receive and respond to. It could be a drawing of the eternal Adam and Eve. Using David Hockney's method of analysis it truly is an intimate masterpiece. Finally, I'm going to the two pages of random line drawings and experiments of Cynthia, each grouped on one page. Artists do these, what to us, are curious rather awkward sketches, to develop line, space, structure and form for the finished piece and to capture the immediacy of the moment. In these John is developing all the outlines and angles of the naked Cynthia so he could accomplish the final vapid drawing in one sketch. In these Cynthia is posed in various forms to accentuate her magnificent breasts. Indeed to the verso of these is an oh so tantalizing, oh so MTA drawing of Cynthia's dominating breasts with her top pulled up, she apparently rarely wore underwear in those days.
The other, a slight, but, oh so clearer drawing virtually all in outline of
the same magnificent breasts framed by, she told me, one of John's jackets
she wore for the pose. With only some basic cross-hatched shading we can see
the very essence of longing, lust and pure love that John so obviously felt
for her, and in the womanhood and sexual giving she reciprocated with. They
were both enveloped in a powerful sexual, almost overpowering passion and
John, with genius, depicts this in a few sharp pen lines. The words of one of
his later songs immediately suggests itself:
"Our lives together, so precious together" -"Just like starting over"
So that's it then. A unique, interesting glimpse into the early drawings of the naked Cynthia by John Lennon. Fascinating, sure, especially because of John's later world fame. Just for MTA readers even, my, you have been spoiled. I could easily end it here. I'm sure you would all give it the verdict of a smart, if a bit 'arty' entry.
But is there in this a more than lingering suspicion of yet something more profound? Something that draws us into that awakening consciousness of desire, of longing? Certainly relating to ourselves and what we are and even what we are about to become. You have to think and decide that.
My only pointer to you is examine the works of Ernst Liebermann and the new German art movement with its heavy infusions of National Socialist ideals of body worship, the purity of sexuality and the sanctity of the female form.
On the other hand you can go listen to 'Sunrise' from Richard Strauss's 'Also Sprach Zarathustra' tone poem. For the 'lazy' among you its that opening music to '2001 a Space Odyssey'.
Or you can just click on your mouse to those photos of Molly's photo shoots.
They all mean the same thing. All relate to the same purposefulness of vision and in the same direction. It's the same force brilliantly cascading with sharp edges, with its different tonality of light, but from the same life energy.
This is the second part of the Cynthia/John Lennon archive. You will not read it elsewhere. It's exclusive to you. Indeed, there is perhaps no other site that is deserving of it.
There will be a third and final part in the near future. Mainly some interesting artifacts of Beatles/John and Cynthia history. Never before seen. So keep checking our site out.