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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Yasumasa Morimura

Dates:  1951 -
Born:  Japan, Osaka
He takes self portraits of his body in settings that are based on films and famous paintings.

Preparing biographies

Biography provided by Focal Press 
Morimura has risen to fame as an artist featured in the 1988 Venice Biennale. Since 1990 his self-portraits combine complex tableaux and computer manipulation to allow him to occupy the space of the main subjects in re-created famous paintings by Van Gogh, Manet, Rembrandt, Goya, Kahlo, and others. He has a BA degree in painting (1978) from Kyoto City University of Arts. As a child growing up in Osaka, Morimura states he learned about art history in school by seeing reproductions of famous Western masterpieces (oriental art was not emphasized). By using reproductions of famous Western paintings, changing gender roles (commonplace in traditional Japanese kabuki theatre), and restaging the painted scenes, Morimura is considered by some to be in tune with the post-modern critique of stereotypes, patrimony, and media saturation. Others find a complex yin/yang duality or racial re-identity in the substitution of previously painted subjects with an Asian face and a slim male physique. Still others find unabashed humor and delight at the props and costumes that the artist has constructed for the photograph. In assuming various roles for his camera, Morimura undergoes extensive transformation with make-up and clay augmentation to his face and body. His self-conscious display is a literal performance that goes beyond Duchampís creation of "Rose Selavy" as the latterís alter ego. Morimuraís most recent work is assembled from many studio stills (he plays all the parts in multi-figure compositions). Comparisons to the work of Cindy Sherman are frequent. Besides Western art history themes, Morimura has also made photographs of himself transformed into feminine idols (Monroe, Bardot, Minnelli). It is unusual to find vetted photographic art that is humorous, sardonic, entertaining, and perplexingly intricate all at the same time. 
(Author: Ken White - Rochester Institute of Technology) 
Michael Peres (Editor-in-Chief), 2007, Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th edition, (Focal Press) [ISBN-10: 0240807405, ISBN-13: 978-0240807409] 
(Used with permission) 

Further research

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Yasumasa Morimura
Self Portrait, 1628 
Family history 
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch.

Visual indexes

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Visual indexes for this photographer are available for subscribers.There is so much more to explore when you subscribe. 

Internet biographies

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Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer. Go to website
Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on Yasumasa Morimura.] 
• Tucker, Anne Wilkes et. al. 2003 The History of Japanese Photography (New Haven and London: Yale University Press) p.350-351 [Short biography on Yasumasa Morimura.] 

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

• Bauret, Gabriel (ed. and text) 2001 Color Photography (New York: Assouline) [Includes example color photographs by Yasumasa Morimura] 
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