When you think of typical art, what do you picture? State of the art Galleries with static pictures all over the walls like rigid windows to other worlds? Musty museums full of immobile statues in wood, plastic, ceramic and bronze?
When most of us think of art, we think of solid, fairly unchanging creations that can withstand hundreds of years of time. But what about the artwork that can’t? What about the art that withstands only a day, an hour, a minute, a second? What about the Ephemeral arts, those creations that only exist for a few transient slivers of time?
Although not as popular (or well-known) as the more solid kinds of art out there, Ephemeral Arts possess a distinct delicacy and philosophical beauty to them. Ephemeral Art shows us that impermanence doesn’t have to be something tragic, or something feared, but it can be something of great meaning, significance and elegance.
So if you’re a contemplative and meditative type of person that enjoys reflecting on the nature of existence, you may like to keep reading.
8 Stunning Ephemeral Arts
These will blow your mind:
1# Buddhist Sand Mandalas
This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds. To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance. A lifetime is like a flash of lighting in the sky, rushing by, like a torrent down a steep mountain. ~ Gautama Buddha
Sand mandala art has for a long time been part of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. It involves meticulously placing colored sand onto a flat surface to construct beautiful, symmetrical images and designs. The creation and destruction of the mandala is a philosophical testament to the impermanence of life.
2# Bubble Art
One must be deeply aware of the impermanence of the world. ~ Dōgen
Dazzling, magical and highly volatile, bubbles have captivated children and adults alike for hundreds of years. The best thing of all, bubbles perfectly represent the transitory nature of life.
3# Ice Sculpting
To know yourself, you must know the transience of yourself. ~ Ilyas Kassam
Ice sculpting is known as an Ephemeral Art due to its tendency to slowly melt into oblivion the day it is displayed to the public. Take Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo’s work for instance. Featured above, Azevedo installed 1,000 ice sculptures in Berlin’s concert hall in 2009. As the ice figures slowly melted away on the 22 degrees Celsius day, onlookers looked on, enthralled by his message.
4# Food Sculpting
All things that have form eventually decay. ~ Masashi Kishimoto
Fruit, vegetables, wheat, cheese, butter, meat, ice-cream … food sculpturing is fascinating, diverse, and very short-lived. Above is the work of Dieter Roth, who sculpts pyramids and other objects out of meat, bananas and dung and other materials to represent the cycle of life and death.
5# Sea Sand Art
Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever, finally comes to realize that nothing really belongs to them. ~ Paulo Coelho
Unique, intricate and grandiose, sand is often used to create hundreds of stunning, but transitory works of art.
6# Chalk Art
The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. ~ Alan Watts
We used to like doing it as children, intrigued and baffled at the impermanence of our artworks on the pavement the next day. But some of us, even after growing up, continue to draw on the ground with mind-bending results. The artwork above was produced in 2009 by artist Schiphol Luchthaven in Amsterdam.
7# Candle Wax Art
Seize the day, then let it go. ~ Marty Rubin
With each passing minute, wax sculptures disintegrate and perish, just like life. Above are still images from wax artist Urs Fischer’s 2011 exhibition, held in Venice.
8# Flower Carpets
Life is but a day; a fragile dew-drop on its perilous way from a tree’s summit. ~ John Keats
Made of flower petals and colored sawdust, Flower Carpets are made to be enjoyed for a day, before they are trodden on and destroyed at the ending of the day. First popularized in Brussels, Flower Carpets are now commonly created for the religious holiday Corpus Christi around the world.
Are you an art enthusiast? Do you practice any Ephemeral Arts? Please share your thoughts below!