In an Aug. 31, 1923, edition of the Shin-aichi newspaper, a clipping shows a photo of artists milling around paintings propped up against a tree in Tokyo's Ueno Park. Another image in the previous day's Asahi Graph shows a girl looking over an apparently abstract painting, above which is a label that reads "Mavo." These scenes sound tranquil, but in fact they depict the immediate aftermath of artistic anarchy.

Takamizawa Michinao, a member of the art group Mavo, had just sent rocks sailing through the glass ceiling of an exhibition hall displaying artworks chosen by Nika-kai (The Second Society), a Western-style painting organization established from 1914 in opposition to the conservatism of the governmental Bunten (Ministry of Education Exhibition) — and the jury members had hastened outside to ascertain the culprits.

The rocks and outdoor display of paintings were a protest by the Mavo artists, who had been rejected by the Nika-kai, a move that seemed to indicate a conservative turn for the art organization. Mavo, which began in 1923 as the re-institution of the Futurist Art Association (which had recently disbanded), was now in the press and in dispute with the police.