9156 seated man confronted by a floating creature

John Lennon, Untitled ink drawing of a seated man confronted by a floating creature (all images courtesy Sotheby’s; all rights of reproduction reserved to the Estate of the late John Lennon)

The mythology of the Beatles, like all mass phenomena, extends far beyond the primary realm of their music — even the group’s most tangential interests and dalliances carry a profound aura of cultural history. Just ask Yoko Ono, who famously met John Lennon in 1966 at an opening of hers at London’s Indica Gallery, a basement space co-owned by John Dunbar, who was then married to Marianne Faithful. Though Yoko Ono’s influence on John Lennon’s creativity was electrifying, Lennon had long dabbled in visual work, as evidenced by a collection of his original artwork coming up for auction at Sotheby’s in June.

The psychedelic drawings and other ephemera, which the auction house claims is part of “the most extensive collection” of his papers to come to auction, are connected to two books Lennon “wrote and illustrated at the height of Beatlemania in 1964–1965,” In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the WorksThe illustrated works available, which range in estimate from $8,000 to $35,000, will be displayed in London and Austin before going on view in New York ahead of the auction on June 4.

9156 boy with six birds

Untitled ink drawing of a boy with six birds

9156 vicar gazing at a naked couple

Untitled ink drawing of a vicar gazing at a naked couple

9156 four-eyed guitar player

Untitled ink drawing of a four-eyed guitar player

9156 Puffing and globbering...

“Puffing and globbering they drugged theyselves rampling or dancing with wild abdomen, stubbing in wild postumes amongst themselves…”

9156 'The Fat Budgie'

‘The Fat Budgie’, autograph manuscript

John Lennon: “You Might Well Arsk” will be on view at Sotheby’s (1334 York Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan) from May 28 to June 3.

Mostafa Heddaya is the former managing editor of Hyperallergic.