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Yasumasa Morimura in his Osaka studio 1990; photograph by Sally Larsen.
'An Inner Dialogue with Frida Kahlo (Skull Ring)', photograph by Yasumasa Morimura
Yasumasa Morimura (森村 泰昌, born June 11, 1951) is a Japanese appropriation artist. He was born in Osaka and graduated from Kyoto City University of Arts in 1978. Since 1985, Morimura has primarily shown his work in international solo exhibitions, although he has been involved in various group exhibitions.
Yasumasa Morimura borrows images from historical artists (ranging from Édouard Manetto Rembrandt to Cindy Sherman), and inserts his own face and body into them.
Among others, Morimura's exhibitions have been shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1992), the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jouy-en-Josas,France (1993), the Hara Art Museum in Tokyo, Japan (1994), the Guggenheim Museum (1994), the Yokohama Museum of Art in Yokohama, Japan (1996), Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (2006), and the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia (2007).
Morimura has created a series of hybrid self-portraits modeled after the art of Frida Kahlo.
He was nominated for the Hugo Boss Prize in 1996. The Carnegie Museum of Art(Pittsburgh), the Honolulu Museum of Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles), Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York) are among the public collections holding work by Yasumasa Morimura.
Morimura Yasumasa, (born 1951, Ōsaka, Japan), Japanese artist known for his large-scale self-portraits that were often superimposed on art-historical images or on pictures of iconic individuals.
After graduating (1978) from Kyōto City University of Arts, Morimura served as an assistant at the university and devoted himself to painting, drawing, photography, and wood-block art. He first attracted international attention in 1988, when a number of his self-portraits were included in the Venice Biennale’s Aperto exhibition for young artists. Solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1992), and the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art, Paris (1993), earned him further acclaim. He was also one of 60 artists selected for inclusion in the influential traveling show “Japanese Art After 1945: Scream Against the Sky” (1994).
In the 1990s Morimura broadened his range of parody. Besides re-creating masterworks of Western art, he used computer technology to manipulate photographs of Western pop-culture icons, in some cases superimposing portions of his image over those of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Madonna, and Michael Jackson. At a number of exhibitions, he took this technique to extremes by installing instant-photo booths alongside his self-portraits. The devices allowed spectators to superimpose an image of their face over Morimura’s. The artist explained his intentions by saying that he believed all people have a common desire for transformation.
Whereas some critics were puzzled by the self-portraits and wondered whether they amounted to art or were simply humorous imitations, others saw them as the work of a clever cultural commentator interested in reinterpreting and parodying Western subjects from an Asian point of view. Although critics debated the significance of Morimura’s art, they were unanimous in recognizing his contributions to a new global art movement based on the collapse of cultural boundaries and the free exchange of artistic influences.
In the late 1990s Morimura demonstrated his versatility by designing clothing for Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, and he gained attention as a lecturer, author, and singer-songwriter. In 1998 another major exhibition of his artwork, held at the Melbourne Festival in Australia, helped solidify his reputation as one