In recent years, Japanese contemporary artists like Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami have become household names, with widely popular exhibitions around the world (including L.A.'s MOCA and the Broad Museum) and designer handbag collaborations with Louis Vuitton. Other stars like Yoko Ono, Yoshitomo Nara, and photographer Nobuyoshi Araki also have instantly recognizable styles and fetch huge prices at international auction houses. They're only a few examples of the Japanese contemporary art scene, which is as dynamic as it is diverse.
Japan's art history spans several thousand years, but the roots of "contemporary art" can be traced back to the nation's first opening to the West in the Meiji Era (1870s). The next half century saw not only Western Art make a renewed and lasting impression on Japan, but moreover, the influence of Japanese artists began to stretch across the globe. After the end of World War II, Tokyo went through vast changes and the city became a fertile ground for bold experimental movements like the Gutai group, Hi Red Center, and the later Mono-ha. These groups blurred the lines between art, everyday life, and political action, and had exchange with other international movements like Fluxus in New York (of which Yoko Ono and Yayoi Kusama were key contributors). Other forms of Western minimalist and conceptual art in the 1960s and 1970s took major inspiration from classical Japanese art, design and philosophy, particularly Zen Buddhism.