Artist
Yasumasa Morimura
Japanese artist

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Yasumasa Morimura
Japanese artist
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Birth Date

1951

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Sr. Editor

Yusumasa Morimura is an art historical chameleon. He’s made his living appropriating famous art and artists.

He thinks of an iconic image, like Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring or Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and dresses up like the famous painting. If you glance at them quickly you almost can’t tell the difference.  Upon closer inspection however, you realize your favorite subjects have been replaced by a slight Japanese man in drag!

In an attempt to comment on the over-idolization of certain artists, he’s masqueraded as Salvador Dali, Andy WarholYves Klein and Pablo Picasso.  Is he poking fun at art’s superstars, paying homage to creators he admires, or riding the coattails of those who’ve already achieved fame? Arguments can be made for all.

Morimura does celebrities, too. Like Albert Einstein with the crazy white hair, Audrey Hepburn in her elegant black shift, even a nude pin-up of sexpot Marilyn Monroe- fake boobs and all! If anything, you’ve got to respect his attention to detail. They’re spitting images. And if the whole art thing doesn’t work out for him, he can always make a living as a celebrity impersonator, taking pictures with tourists on Hollywood and Vine.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Yasumasa Morimura

Yasumasa Morimura (森村 泰昌, Morimura Yasumasa, 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.

Morimura borrows images from historical artists (ranging from Édouard Manet to Rembrandt to Cindy Sherman), and inserts his own face and body into them. He even disguises himself as the principal subjects that appear in the artworks he appropriated, many of which goes against his racial, ethnic, and gender boundaries as an Asian male because most of the artworks he appropriates have Western subjects, particularly female subjects. These include Mona Lisa, Frida Kahlo's self-portraits, and the characters in Velázquez's Las Meninas (1956). He also inserted himself into some of the Western male subjects, and the majority of those works mostly deal with race and ethnicity. Through the use of disguises, he overturns the effects of the male gaze, gender, race, ethnicity, and cultural standards, challenging the traditional methods of portraiture that he alters the original Western artworks by incorporating details related to Japanese culture. For example, in one of his works, Portrait (Futago), he changes the floral shawl from the original artwork, Olympia by Manet, with a kimono decorated with cranes. Because traditional portraits were mostly Western dominated, Morimura's combination of crossing multiple boundaries at a marginalized position became a major focus through his performance of photographic works.

Among others, his 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 (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 (2007).

He has also 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 Morimura.

Among other galleries, he is represented by Luhring Augustine Gallery in New York City.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Yasumasa Morimura.