Collectivism is a lively phenomenon in a rapidly globalizing world of contemporary art today. Artists' groups proliferate in many regions of the world, calling into question the modern myth of originality and individualism. These collectives actively explore new possibilities of expression and operation, while aspiring to break down the conventional boundaries that have long conditioned the production of art and its distribution in society. The global scope of artists' collectives makes the study of collectivism an integral part of “world art history,” providing a critical perspective in understanding the distinctive local developments of modernity and postmodernity worldwide. This issue focuses on twentieth-century Japan to examine some critical issues concerning collectivism and art, including the impetuses and origins of collectivism, the evolution of modern and contemporary collectivism, and the ways collectivism shapes artists' practices of making and showing art in an environment they operate. In particular, this introduction proposes a periodization of kindai (modern), gendai (contemporary), and kontemporarī (“contemporary” in a global sense) based on three different operational modes of collectivism and explores how modern collectivism that centered on bijutsu dantai (art associations) helped create the art establishment and disseminate the idea of modernism among the general public, while fostering vanguard experimentalism that foresaw the collectivism of postwar art.

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