Yasumasa Morimura is an internationally respected and controversial Japanese artist who through his art, represents social changes in Japanese culture, such as Western influences, politics and gender values. Morimura explores how Japan interacts with the World through the lens of the artist and how the artist creates an identity within his culture and the global community. Morimura was born in Osaka, Japan, in 1951. He was educated at Kyoto City University of the Arts where he graduated in 1978. Yasumasa Morimura has achieved fame as a contemporary international artist largely due to his provocative interpretations. Using himself as the subject matter, he has recreated iconic images from Western culture in his photographic self-portraits, including American leading actresses from the 1950s and 60s, famous singers and more recently, controversial historical world leaders. In the 1990s Morimura expanded on his art. As well as re-creating masterworks of Western art, he also 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. His provocative works dressed as Marilyn Monroe sold in the tens of thousands of dollars per color print. Some critics interpret the constant self-portraits as a form of vanity and self-gratification, in order to gain wealth and fame. But regardless of this, he continues to take risks as an artist with his choice of subject matter. And although critics have debated the significance of Morimura’s art, they have all been unanimous in recognizing his contributions to a new international art movement based on the collapse of cultural boundaries. Morimura is more than just art's most famous drag queen. Dealing with cultural and sexual issues he is constantly exploring ideas of image, identity and desire by portraying himself often as a woman and a westerner with strong...
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