Yokoyama Taikan (1868-1958) is inarguably the definitive artist in creating pictorial and organizational frameworks inaugurating and furthering modern nihonga (Japanese painting). "The 150th Anniversary of His Birth: Yokoyama Taikan" at The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, examines those achievements in a career retrospective of 92 works.
Taikan's early mentor at the Tokyo Fine Arts School (now Tokyo University of the Arts) was the legendary Japanese scholar, Okakura Kakuzo (1863-1913). From 1896, Taikan also taught design at his alma mater until internal frictions in 1898 led to the denunciation and resignation of Okakura as president. Some artists, including painter Shunso Hishida and Taikan, decamped with Okakura to form the rival group The Japan Art Institute.
To capture the tumultuous event, Taikan's "The Legendary Chinese Poet Qu Yuan" (1898) pictured a powerful and emotionally posed poet of the Chinese Warring States Period (ca. 476–221 BC) in an image of fury and resentment. He was a surrogate for Okakura. Such conceptual approaches to subject matter characterized the early output of painters at The Japan Art Institute.