The Last Official John Lennon Photo Session

It took place earlier on the day he was murdered

The Last Official John Lennon Photo Session

 John Lennon’s was murdered on the 8th of December 1980, 42 years ago today. On that tragic day, the photographer Annie Leibovitz met Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono at their flat in The Dakota building in New York to shoot a photo for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Five hours after the image was taken, Lennon was killed by Mark David Chapman. The publication of the photograph on the cover of Rolling Stone on January 22, 1981, caused a tragic, almost morbid sensation since it was one of the last images ever taken of Lennon. Apart from this historical coincidence, a reading of the photograph establishes why it has become such an integral part of our visual culture. The way Lennon’s body is wrapped around Yoko One is strongly reminiscent of the fetal position, or, in other words, the positioning of the body of a prenatal fetus as it develops. Lennon’s curled toes are deeply reminiscent of the newborn child. Importantly, however, the fetal position is also assumed in children and adults seeking to protect the body in a state of trauma. Lennon’s nakedness signifying his vulnerability, and the position of his body signifying a bodily position which evokes a traumatic experience, eerily foreshadow the actual trauma that Lennon was yet to incur only hours after the image was taken. This beautiful but sad photograph will always be remembered. Here are more photos from that photoshoot on December 8, 1980.

By Ken Warren, 2017

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