The Andy Warhol Museum is proud to present ‘Theater of the Self’ a survey exhibition of work by Japanese artist Yasumasa Morimura. By quite literally assuming a place in these works, Morimura reimagines historical narratives and, in the process, conflates issues of originality and reproduction, gender, and race to create what he calls a “beautiful commotion.”

The exhibition will focus on three important bodies of work: ‘Requiem’ in which Morimura recreates iconic photographs relating to 20th Century political and cultural life; the ‘Actresses’ series in which he assumes the personae of Hollywood luminaries such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor; and his celebrated ‘Art History’ photographs in which he painstakingly restages canonical European paintings.

Morimura’s fascination with the self-portrait, celebrity, and the nature of identity align him closely with the work of Andy Warhol. In fact, the artist has described himself as Warhol’s “conceptual son” and, like Warhol, his practice presents a view of the self as something constructed through our relationship to the images that we create and celebrate.

October 6, 2013 - January 12, 2014, The Andy Warhol Museum
Click here for visit information.

The Exhibition

October 6, 2013 - January 12, 2014

Click here for visit information.

View works and watch video from the exhibition below

Art History

Yasumasa Morimura’s reprisals of European masterpieces are, at once, acts of homage and parody. Painstakingly realized, his photographic reconstructions of paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn and Edouard Manet, among others, bring compositional questions together with those pertaining to race, gender and sexuality. In doing so, they reveal both the aesthetics and the politics embedded in the art historical canon.


This section of the exhibition focuses on Morimura’s restaging of scenes from award winning films featuring Marlene Dietrich, Audrey Hepburn, Liza Minnelli, Jodie Foster and many others.  It is notable that the artist’s impersonations are not anonymous but well-known stars, archetypes of Hollywood’s leading ladies.

As stated in their titles, each work is a self-portrait and together they propose a range of possibilities for the artist’s own identity. Morimura has stated, “My own self-definition includes this entire zone of possibilities. When I apply this way of thinking to making a self-portrait, it becomes what I call an ‘open self-portrait.’”


The artworks comprising the Requiem Series are derived from photographic sources and depict prominent masculine figures in moments of triumph or transition. Substituting himself for ideologues, dictators and creative thinkers, Morimura reflects on what these figures represent for the broader culture and on the role of photography in celebrating, demonizing or memorializing them.

The Book

Download the publication for desktop, mobile, Kindle, and iBook.

The digital publication Yasumasa Morimura, Theater of the Self, offers additional rich content including image galleries, video clips and essays. Contributors are Charles Exley, Assistant Professor of Modern Japanese Literature and Film, The University of Pittsburgh; Akira Mizuta Lippit, Professor of Cinematic Arts, Comparative Literature, and Eat Asian Languages and Cultures at University of Southern California; and Robert C. Morgan, Art Critic, Art Historian, New York, NY. The introduction is written by Nicholas Chambers, the Milton Fine Curator of Art at The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh.
Morimura E-publication
  • Text images, and video of the publication
  • View-able on iPhone and iPad
  • Available for puchase from the iBook Store

Background image credits (top to bottom):

Yasumasa Morimura, Me Holding a Gun: for Andy Warhol, 1998 Digital video, color, silent, 3:00 minutes Collection of the artist Video still couresty of the artist
Yasumasa Morimura, Marilyn Monroe, 1996 Color photograph 15 x 10 inches Private Collection
Yasumasa Morimura, An Inner Dialogue with Frida Kahlo (Gift 2), 2001 Color photograph 47 ¼ x 37 ¾ inches Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Gift of Pamela Z. Bryan, 2003.9