Ever since the times of Immanuel Kant in the 1800s, the German philosopher and one of the most influential thinkers in the world of aesthetics in modern Western philosophy, schematic thinkers have tried to set beautiful things apart from useful ones. Beauty -they argue- is a matter of taste and belief, whereas usefulness can be affirmed through practical and conceptual knowledge. Georg Hegel, another renowned German thinker following Kant, would go further by declaring the arts could be perceived exclusively through hearing and sight.
Fast forward to 2020. Many modern thinkers and artists -Nicola Costantino amongst them- defy this alleged stark contrast between aesthetic enjoyment and technical efficiency. Why, they ask, can’t something be at the same time functional and beautiful? Or, in other words, why couldn’t we freely embrace succulent banquets, luxury vehicles and high fashions as true works of art?
When speaking about the subject, Costantino won’t hesitate – “Driving a Lexus or wearing a silk gown, tasting a sumptuous meal or using fine pottery are all, thus, artistic experiences,” -she declares. “Each of these objects is perfectly functional, accomplished and beautiful. At the same time technical and aesthetic. Aesthetic because of its perfect working order. Technical because of its irresistible beauty,” she adds.
The artist in the driver’s seat
The artist is on a mission to prove the great German thinkers wrong. To demonstrate her point, she conceived Lexus Art of Food, a fully edible banquet that reinvents Hieronymus Bosch’s legendary masterpiece “Garden of Earthly Delights.” Art of Food doesn’t just include a cornucopia that offers spectators attending the exhibition the joy of taking and eating all sort of delicacies, it also features a beautiful and immaculate Lexus ES as part of the Garden of Earthly Delights. The Japanese gem reposes supreme amidst hand blown flowers holding soups and trees holding sphere shaped fruits with food in them. “I believe that art is experienced through the body and, in fact, we feel it in the body. That applies to a painting on a wall as much as it does to a Lexus ES. Both are sensory experiences and by definition artistic experiences.”
When the line between function and beauty blurs
Costantino dissolves the line between the traditional contradiction of the visible function of a premium Lexus ES and the disinterested beauty of a work of art, in turn allowing art and technology to converge. She is confident about her convictions – “The factor that has determined a vehicle cannot be considered a work of art is the prevailing utilitarian nature of it.” -she claims. “My view is that the experience with a machine that works seamlessly like a Lexus ES will provoke a sensation in us by sending a chill through our body which we can actually feel and, in turn, undergo a truly artistic experience.” Costantino has a point.
Welcome to Lexus Art of Food…