On the Art of Building a Teahouse

This publication focusses on the art of building a teahouse and is an invitation to explore the world of Japanese aesthetics. It accompanies the exhibition On the Art of Building a Teahouse: Excursions into Japanese Aesthetics at Neues Museum Nuremberg.

The point of departure for the exhibition’s voyage is the traditional Japanese teahouse, a place of spiritual experience. The founder of this practice was the famous tea master Sen no Rikyū (1522–1591) who understood the tea ceremony as a synthetic event. Rikyū recommended that teahouses should be markedly simple and made by the use of materials that are vulnerable both to wear and weathering.

Japan’s tea culture and its link to Zen Buddhism have brought forth an aesthetic of lightness, fragility and the ephemeral to which we owe objects of overwhelming beauty. The exhibition explores the basic notions of the Japanese tea aesthetic and allows them to be experienced in seven themed sections.

The featured works of art, architecture, design and photography are part of an art-historical continuum. The creators of the works on show perform skilled translations: in dialogue with craft and design traditions, they update the central motifs and themes of tea culture using modern materials and innovative forms.

Published on the occasion of the exhibition On the Art of Building a Teahouse: Excursions into Japanese Aesthetics, 17 Nov 2017 – 4 Mar 2018, Neues Museum Nuremberg, State Museum for Art and Design Nuremberg, Germany.

English and German text.

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