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Photo credit: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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Title: Ambiguous Beauty / Aimai-no-bi
Date: 1995
Medium: Photograph and offset lithograph printed on folding fan
Edition of 5000
Dimensions: Closed: 11 1/2 x 1 1/2 in. (29.2 x 3.8 cm); Open: 19 3/4 x 11 1/2 in. (50.2 x 29.2 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of the Peter Norton Family, through Margaret and Frank Robinson
Object Number: 95.091
Label Text: Inserting himself into a range of characters, artists, and actresses across different periods, the photographer and appropriation artist Yasumasa Morimura produces works that span themes of politics, gender, and identity. Here Morimura dons a fake wig and breasts that allude to Marilyn Monroe’s appearance on the cover of the first issue of Playboy. On the opposite side of the fan is the Japanese character for love. Further referencing his own heritage, the fan includes a wooden box made from Paulownia, a material historically used for the presentation of formal fans in Japan.

By referencing celebrities and well-known artists in his work, Morimura explores the Japanese fascination with Western culture and proposes a new form of portraiture that plays on viewer expectations and associations with familiar subjects. ("15 Minutes: Exposing Dimensions of Fame," curated by undergraduate members of Cornell's History of Art Major's Society and presented at the Johnson Museum April 16 - July 24, 2016)

NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.