The term "art group" barely does justice to the collective of artists in postwar Japan known as Gutai. Founded in 1954 by Jiro Yoshihara, the group renegotiated the borders of art, incorporating performance, installation and even the natural environment into their creations.

Bringing together more than 150 artworks, the National Art Center (NACT) is currently holding "Gutai: The Spirit of an Era," Tokyo's first major retrospective of the art movement. Even though in recent decades, the group has garnered interest and acclaim in the Kansai region of Japan where the movement started as well as abroad, Tokyo has, surprisingly, only seen a few small-scale shows.

But then, Gutai always had a somewhat ambivalent relationship with the nation's capital. While recognizing the importance of making a name for itself in the metropolis (it held its first exhibition under the Gutai banner there in late 1955) it chose to first showcase its work not only far from city, but also in the open air rather than in a typical white-cube gallery. Installations from this event, "Experimental Outdoor Exhibition of Modern Art to Challenge the Mid-Summer Burning Sun," held in Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture, are featured early on in this NACT show.