This special issue explores the significance of collectivism in modern and contemporary Japanese art. Japanese artists banded together throughout the twentieth century to work in collectives, reflecting and influencing each evolution of their culture. Illuminating the interplay between individual and community throughout Japan’s tumultuous century, the contributors to this issue examine both the practical internal operations of the collectives and the art that they produced.
One contributor studies the art societies of prewar imperial Japan, whose juried art salons defined a new nihonga (Japanese-style) painting tradition. While recent scholarly work on art produced during World War II has tended to neglect the collectivist tradition, this issue covers wartime groups like the Art Unit for Promoting the Munitions Industry and the important questions they pose about the relationship between artists and the state. Art collectives in post-occupation Japan gained prominence working in the experimental vanguard of the global art scene in painting, sculpture, design, and intermedia projects. Adding a crucial dimension to the study of Japanese art and modernism, this issue explores how these groups attempted to accommodate the creative paradox of individualism within collectivism.
Contributors: Maki Kaneko, Kuroda Raiji, John Szostak, Miwako Tezuka, Ming Tiampo, Reiko Tomii, Alicia Volk, Midori Yoshimoto
Reiko Tomii is an independent art historian and curator in New York. She is coauthor of Xu Bing. Midori Yoshimoto is Associate Professor of Art History and curator of two galleries at New Jersey City University. She is the author of Into Performance: Japanese Women Artists in New York.