Yasumasa Morimura examines painting, the history of art, and history painting through the newest imaging and photographic technology. By also inserting himself into all of his images, Morimura creates an extended meditation on the complicated nature of identity, showing how the myth of the contemporary individual is always deeply rooted in historical precedent.

Brothers (A Late Autumn Prayer) is inspired by French artist Jean-François Millet’s The Angelus, 1857–59, in which two peasants pray with bowed heads during a break from labor in the fields. In place of the setting sun on the horizon, Morimura has placed an iconic image of a mushroom cloud. The artist has also inserted himself into the scene, playing the role of the peasant warrior. Instead of farm tools, the peasants hold handguns. Where in Millet’s painting a pitchfork stands stuck into the soil, in Morimura’s photograph a rifle is thrust bayonet-first into the ground. The altered living conditions on the planet and the ferocity of modern war transform the idyllic theme of life in the fields into an image of violence and brutality.

This work adds to the ICA/Boston’s collection of photography, joining works by Cindy Sherman and Philip-Lorca diCorcia that also examine the relationship between photography, portraiture, and art history.


Gift of Sandra and Gerald Fineberg