Playing with their coffee, instead of drinking it, Japanese latte artists Kazuki Yamamoto and Kohei Matsuno, are creating some cool, yet very ephemeral art. In the samples above, I’m especially fond of The Scream, Einstein, and of course the special 3D Latte Kitty which I referred to in my previous post about bridges.
On an NPR affiliate’s website, Maria Godov discusses the foam “masterpieces” and how the artists have carved a niche not only in their coffee cups, but in the art world, despite the fact that their art is ephemeral and lasts only minutes before it dissolves or is sipped away. Design philosopher Leonard Koren explained that to the Japanese “many things are beautiful precisely because they are short-lived and fragile.”
Indeed, there’s a huge place in this world for ephemeral art. Because it’s short-lived there’s a sense of immediacy and urgency when it comes to viewing it. Paintings hung in art galleries on permanent display just can’t duplicate that feeling.
Artist Christo and his wife, the late Jeanne-Claude, treasured ephemeral art and brought their visions to the masses with their wrappings of public buildings and spaces. I had the opportunity to enjoy their work, The Gates, in Central Park, New York.
A series of strategically placed saffron-colored fabric stanchions, The Gates was on display for only a few weeks in February 2005. But it proved how the sum of an ephemeral work of art was more than equal to its parts. Some New Yorkers were initially upset that The Gates was being staged in their beloved Central Park, possibly marring it and scarring it (and I guess them) for life. Before it opened, it was hailed as Mayor Bloomberg’s folly.
But then it did open, and people did go. In fact they flocked to it. I went twice. Yes, it was only a series of orange curtains, but it was much more too. The curtains had a welcoming effect, like a red carpet was being rolled out for the entire public, not just a privileged few. This was art created for all of us to enjoy. No admission fee necessary. The Gates brought beauty to an otherwise drab and gray winter landscape. It was fun. People had a good time talking to strangers, listening to street musicians, just reveling in the moment. New York enjoyed millions of dollars from tourists like myself. It was a win for everyone.
My all-time favorite ephemeral art work is sandcastles on the beach. In summers at Coast Guard Beach on Cape Cod, I love watching friends, families, adults and kids sitting in the sand, carefully pooling their water, and creating art that will be washed away in a matter of hours. Sometimes the work is very simple, just pails of wet sand turned upside down. You know this is most likely the work of a playful child. Sometimes the works are elaborate and beautiful. But be the castles simple or fancy, there’s something very soul satisfying about sandcastles to both the creators and the audience.
Because I don’t have any artistic talent, skills, or ambitions, I’m not going to go out and buy paint or a canvas. But even I’m not afraid to give ephemeral art a whirl.
As I stated in my blog profile, I dabble a little bit in the culinary arts as a home chef. I like to cook, but can’t decorate a cake to save my life. But when I came across a photo and recipe on a cooking chat board about a colorful Rainbow Ribbon Jell-O Mold, I decided to give it a whirl. I’ve made the Jell-O mold for numerous occasions and it’s always been met with ooohs, ahhs and raves. People love taking pictures of it and hate to cut it and “destroy” it. I laugh when that happens.
That’s the joy of ephemeral art, it can be seen, loved and its loss mourned, all in one moment.