In the immediate decades after World War II, part of what it meant to be a contemporary artist in Japan was to belong to some kind of regular exhibiting institution. These organizations were different from the prewar institutions that continued, such as the government-sponsored Bunten/Nitten or Tokyo-based Inten. In contrast to the stylistic conformism of those larger, conservative arts organizations, the new collectives stressed the individual stylistic freedom of their members.

The Pan Real Art Association from 1948, the more internationally focused Gutai from 1954 — and dozens of others organizations that proliferated — challenged their members to find their own distinctive voices. From around the late 1970s, however, given the increasing support of private dealer galleries, belonging to an art organization became suspect and the artist as an individual was emphasized.

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