Yasumasa Morimura

Yasumasa Morimura (1951, Osaka, Japan). Lives and works in Osaka, Japan.

Yasumasa Morimura is a Japanese appropriation artist that has been working for more than three decades as a conceptual photographer and filmmaker.

Defining himself as a cross between an actor and an artist, Morimura is known for his large-scale self-portraits that are often superimposed on art-historical images. Through extensive use of props, costumes, makeup, and digital manipulation, the artist masterfully transforms himself into recognizable iconic individuals. Morimura has based his works on renowned paintings by Frida Kahlo, Vincent Van Gogh and Diego Velázquez, as well as images culled from historical materials, mass media, and popular culture.

The artist’s reinvention of iconic photographs and art historical masterpieces challenges the associations the viewer has with the subjects, while also commenting on Japan’s complex absorption of Western culture. Through his depiction of female stars and characters, Morimura subverts the concept of the “male gaze”; within each image he both challenges the authority of identity and overturns the traditional scope of self-portraiture.

In Morimura’s “Inner Dialogue With Frida Kahlo” he casts himself as the world famous Mexican artist known for her lush, surreal self-portraits:
«As I am being inspired by you, Doña Frida, I drink in what I like to think of as your essence so as to create a Frida of my own, in my own mind’s eye… In that fantastic sphere, the various elements of Doña Frida and myself mix into a muddle, a chemical reaction occurs, creating this imaginary Frida of mine. I wanted to give form to what Doña Frida is to me. Via self-portraiture, that is.”

“A Few Small Nips” features a woman being literally “murdered by life,” as Frida herself felt, murdered both physically by her chronic pain and suffering and emotionally by an affair of Diego Rivera with her sister Cristina. The painting’s theme is based on a newspaper account of a real murder: a man who murdered his girlfriend by stabing her again and again. On the court the murderer claimed: “But I only gave her a few small nips.”

Morimura was nominated for the Hugo Boss Prize in 1996.
His work is a part of numerous prominent collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA, San Francisco), the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles), the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA, Chicago), the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA, Los Angeles) and the Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh).

Yasumasa Morimura

  • Yasumasa Morimura - An Inner Dialogue with Frida Kahlo (Dialogue With Myself 2)

    An Inner Dialogue with Frida Kahlo (Dialogue With Myself 2)
    2001
    Color photograph
    162 x 194 cm

    Exhibitions
    Naturally Naked. Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow. Aug - Dec 2019
    Yasumasa Morimura. One artist's theatre. Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow. Oct 2006 - Jan 2007

    Publications
    Yasumasa Morimura. One artist's theatre. Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow, 2006. page 25

  • Yasumasa Morimura - An inner dialogue with Frida Kahlo (Skull ring)

    An inner dialogue with Frida Kahlo (Skull ring)
    2001
    Color photograph
    150 x 120 cm

  • Yasumasa Morimura  - Gentelmen, your turn is over

    Gentelmen, your turn is over
    2004
    C-print
    160 x 120 cm

  • Yasumasa Morimura - I am flying. It is your own fault if you are used as a stepping stone

    I am flying. It is your own fault if you are used as a stepping stone
    2004
    C-print
    160 x 120 cm

  • Yasumasa Morimura - The drama is still going on. The curtain at the Globe Theatre has fallen

    The drama is still going on. The curtain at the Globe Theatre has fallen
    2004
    C-print
    160 x 120 cm

  • Yasumasa Morimura - Where are we from? Who we are? Where are we going?

    Where are we from? Who we are? Where are we going?
    2004
    C-print
    160 x 120 cm

  • Yasumasa Morimura - An inner dialogue with Frida Kahlo (Hand shaped earring)

    An inner dialogue with Frida Kahlo (Hand shaped earring)
    2001
    Color photograph
    Diameter 210,2 cm

  • Yasumasa Morimura - An inner dialogue with Frida Kahlo (Standing firm)

    An inner dialogue with Frida Kahlo (Standing firm)
    2001
    Color photograph
    170 x 140 cm

  • Yasumasa Morimura - Look, this is in fashion!

    Look, this is in fashion!
    2004
    C-print
    160 x 120 cm

    Exhibitions
    Yasumasa Morimura. One artist's theatre. Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow: Oct 2006 - Jan 2007

    Publications
    Yasumasa Morimura. One artist's theatre. Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow, 2006. page 33