Tea CeremonyThe Noguchi Museum
March 23 - July 24, 2016

The Museum’s 30th-anniversary programming culminates with an installation by celebrated artist Tom Sachs. This major exhibition is the first at the Museum to present work by a single artist other than Noguchi.

The exhibition centers on an immersive environment representing Sachs’ distinctive reworking of chanoyu, or traditional Japanese tea ceremony—including the myriad elements essential to that intensely ritualistic universe.

Among the large stone sculptures by Isamu Noguchi in the Museum’s indoor/outdoor galleries, Sachs has set a tea house in a garden accessorized with variations on lanterns, gates, a wash basin, a plywood airplane lavatory, a koi pond, an ultra HD video wall with the sublime hyper-presence of Mt. Fuji, a bronze bonsai made of over 3,600 individually welded parts, and other objects of use and contemplation. Sachs has also produced a complete alternative material culture of Tea—from bowls and ladles, scroll paintings and vases, to a motorized tea whisk, a shot clock, and an electronic brazier.

Supplementing the tea garden are three additional installations covering consummate examples of Sachs’ Tea tools, a brief history of Tea as it developed out of Sachs’ Space Program 2.0: MARS, and a small retrospective of the artist’s two decade–long career as a cultural hybridizer.

Tom Sachs: Tea Ceremony is accompanied by a 280-page artist’s book, Tea Ceremony Manual, documenting the artist’s culture and practice of Tea. Produced for the exhibition and published by The Noguchi Museum, with additional support from Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Nasher Sculpture Center. 

The setting and the tools constitute only part of the culture of Tea. As beautiful as they are on their own, they exist to serve a ritual: chanoyu, literally the making of “hot water for tea” and the drinking of tea. The opportunity to connect with nature, time, and each other—to slow down in a constrained environment designed to sit outside reality, in relative simplicity and silence—is the heart of the experience and the culture.

During the course of the exhibition, Tom Sachs and his friend and colleague in Tea, Johnny Fogg, will perform tea ceremony for two or three guests. On these occasions, the walls of the tea house will be removed, enabling all visitors to observe the ceremony. Performances are included with Museum admission.