In this essay, I examine Nihonga exhibition collectives in early twentieth-century Japan, focusing on two central questions: what effect did they have on discourse regarding the practice and exhibition of Nihonga painting, and how did artists' affiliation with successful exhibition collectives impact their careers and professional agendas? At the center of the study is the Kokuga Society (Kokuga Sōsaku Kyōkai), a Nihonga collective active from 1918 to 1928, and its associated exhibition, the Kokuten, which it promoted as a progressive alternative to the official exhibition salon sponsored by the Japanese government. Through the example of the Kokuga Society, we learn how Japanese exhibition collectives functioned at this time to promote art and exhibition reform, to stimulate critical discourse on Nihonga's modernist potential, and to enhance the professional status of participating artists.

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