Who the hell is Yasumasa Morimura?

Posted on by Jeffrey

What do the above pictures all have in common? They all are images of the same man: Yasumasa Morimura.

Have you ever heard of Yasumasa Morimura? Me neither, until I saw Filament (2002). In Filament, Morimura plays a father figure that by most standards, and much more so Japanese standards, is excessively meek. Oh yeah, he’s also obsessed with cross-dressing; a not so out-of-the-ordinary role for the Japanese appropriation artist Morimura.

For those who don’t know what an appropriation artist is, it’s someone who uses a part of or the whole of an existing thing for their art. A classic example is Marcel Duchamp’s “L.H.O.O.Q.” in which Duchamp drew a mustache and beard on a print of the Mona Lisa. Morimura takes famous, sometimes iconic, images and places his face in the artwork. In Filament for example, Morimura’s character, who is self-employed as a portrait photographer, photographs himself dressed as Marilyn Monroe as she was in The Seven Year Itch (1955) when her skirt blows up.

If you visit his website (and if you can’t read Japanese, click on 作品紹介), you’ll be treated to an array of his work from the last 25 years. Whether you like them or not, the pieces are interesting.

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