Yoko Ono, John Baldessari to be honoured in Venice


June 18, 2010 Updated Feb 24, 2009 at 11:10 AM EDT

Avant-garde artists Yoko Ono and John Baldessari will be honoured with career Golden Lions at this year's Venice Biennale for having "revolutionised the language of art," organisers said Tuesday.

The "Mostra" to be held June 7 to November 22 in the Renaissance city will recognise two artists "whose ground-breaking activities have opened new poetic, conceptual and social possibilities for artists around the globe," the show's curator Daniel Birnbaum said in a statement.

"Their work has revolutionised the language of art and will remain a source of inspiration for generations to come," said the Swedish art critic and philosopher.

The lifetime achievement Golden Lions are to be bestowed on June 6 during the Mostra's inauguration.

Titled "Making Worlds," this year's Biennale will focus on the creative process, Birnbaum said in October.

The show will be "closer to the process of production and the venues of creation and training -- the studio, the laboratory -- than traditional museum-style exhibitions," he said.

"A work of art is more than an object, or a product. It represents a vision of the world and, if taken seriously, can be considered as a way of building worlds," said Birnbaum, who heads Frankfurt's Stadelschule Art Academy.

Among countries to take part for the first time in the 53rd edition of the Mostra are the United Arab Emirates, Gabon, Montenegro, Pakistan and South Africa.

Iran, Morocco and New Zealand will be staging a return.

The last 2007 art edition awarded a Golden Lion lifetime achievement to Malian photographer Malick Sidibe, who became the first African to clinch the top honour.

Ono, 76, the widow of slain former Beatle John Lennon, was a "pioneer in performance and conceptual art," Tuesday's statement said, adding that "she is one of the most influential artists of our time."

It added: "Long before becoming an icon in popular culture and in peace activism, she developed artistic strategies that have left a lasting mark both in her native Japan and in the West."

Californian Baldessari, 78, is "one of today's most important visual artists (who) above all developed a visual language entirely his own," the statement said. "Since the 1960s, he has worked in many disciplines and has produced an outstanding body of work that has inspired several generations of artists."

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