In our countdown to Amsterdam, we show sketches made in Amsterdam by some of the ‘old masters’ and pictures of the views as they are now.

by Roger Klaassen

Today, a surprising artist, who can hardly be called an ‘old master’. The most recent sketch in our countdown, made exactly 50 years ago, to Amsterdam was drawn by… John Lennon (1940 – 1980). Famous for his music as a Beatle and a solo artist, John Lennons first urge was to become an artist. As a young boy, he made ‘books with drawings and caricatures’.

He entered the Liverpool College of Art in 1957. Soon, Lennon discovered that the College of Arts curriculum didn’t meet his expectations – classes in geometry, lettering, architecture: this was just being at school! Lennon had a reputation for provocative and indecent behaviour in art school – for example: sitting on nude models laps and kissing them.

More important for history: the Liverpool College of Art was next door to the Liverpool Institute, where both Paul McCartney and George Harrison went to school.

In March 1969, John Lennon married Yoko Ono. As part of their honeymoon, they had the first of their famous Bed-ins in suite 702 of the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam. Between 25 and 31 March 1969, John and Yoko stayed in bed to protest against the Vietnam war and to promote world peace. International press and fans visited the couple in their hotel suite.

During their honeymoon, John Lennon made several sketches as a gift to Yoko – a drawn reportage of their first weeks as a couple (some of them with very explicit content). He also gave some of these ‘Bed-in’ drawings to visiting fans – if they were lucky.

Suite 702 has been kept up as much as possible in the state it was in 1969. Maybe you can stay there during the USk Symposium? If you do, please pay your hotel bill – something John and Yoko didn’t do when they left the hotel in 1969.