Anya Gallaccio, ‘preserve ‘beauty’’ 1991–2003
Anya Gallaccio
preserve ‘beauty’ 1991–2003
Tate
© Anya Gallaccio, courtesy Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York

There are many forms of ephemeral art, from sculpture to performance, but the term is usually used to describe a work of art that only occurs once, like a happening, and cannot be embodied in any lasting object to be shown in a museum or gallery.

Ephemeral art first came to prominence in the 1960s with the Fluxus group, when artists like Joseph Beuys were interested in creating works of art that existed outside the gallery and museum structure and had no financial worth. Happenings, performances and sound sculptures were all part of ephemeral art, as were flyers and cheap mass-produced items that carried subversive messages out into the world.