Gutai (meaning embodiment) was the first radical, post-war artistic group in Japan. It was founded in 1954 by the painter Jiro Yoshihara in Osaka, in response to the reactionary artistic context of the time. This internationally influential group was involved in large-scale multimedia environments, performances and installations emphasising the relationship between body and matter. The movement rejected traditional art styles in favor of performative immediacy paving the way for movements such as Fluxus.
Coming about during postwar Japanese reconstruction, Gutai challenged imaginations to invent new notions of what art is with attention on the relationships between body, matter, time, and space. The group took on a horizontal system of community as opposed to a hierarchical one. They believed that community was essential to the development of the individual. They viewed individualism as challenging oneself against external forces, such as the psychological forces of fascism, in which the individual becomes a means of asserting freedom. These views were written in articles and shared in the Gutai bulletin. Apart from having group exhibitions they also had group journals. Their political principles of emancipation came from the rapid dehumanising industrial growth that was happening in Japan. Their concerns were close to that of Allan Kaprow, the Situationist International, the Dutch group Nul, and the Brazilian Neo-concretists. The group worked together for 18 years and dissolved after the sudden death of Yoshihara in 1972.