Matthias Beckmann: From Tea to Tea

05.12.2014 to 12.04.2015
Museum für Asiatische Kunst

The ephemeral art of the Japanese 'Way of Tea’ and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst itself lie at the heart of a series of pencil drawings by the German artist Matthias Beckmann that are now going on show for the first time in the 'Art of the Way of Tea’ gallery and the 'Graphic Cabinet’ in the museum. Matthias Beckmann has made a name for himself as a documentarian of public institutions, especially museums and galleries, as well as of artists’ studios. In 2011, he captured on paper the galleries, the exhibits, the visitors, and staff, as well as the various in-house activities at the museum, in his distinctive drawings, characterized by their soberly minimalist lines.

His wholly unique gaze not only opens up new perspectives on long-familiar works of art and spaces, but also shows the museum visitor an otherwise hidden side of everyday life in the museum, such as the setting up of exhibitions or conservation work in the studio. On numerous occasions between 2011 and 2014 Beckmann also recorded the interaction of participants during meetings in the museum’s tea-room. His drawings depict formal demonstrations of traditional tea ceremonies, lessons in the art of the Way of Tea, and intimate meetings between a few people. Time and again these drawings offer us a glimpse into this traditional medium of communication and art appreciation. This portrait of the museum and its activities is of particular documentary value, as the museum is poised to leave its present location in Dahlem and will, in the near future, go on display in a new format in the Humboldt-Forum at Schlossplatz.

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