Study on Laib:
- When and where did Laib produce his work?Arguably one of Laib’s more famous works, Pollen from Hazelnut is a pigmented yellow square, made by sifting pollen onto a concrete floor. The installation was featured in New York’s Museum of Modern Art for two months in 2013 (January 23- March 11). The hazelnut pollen, however, had been in Laib’s personal collection for approximately 20 years, gathered from his home town in Germany. Most of Laib’s installations are temporary and are often soon after moved to another museum for display.
“The impermanence is intentional. Something which is temporary is much more eternal than things that last forever.”
- What are the key conceptual ideas that underpin Laib’s work?Laib tends to use organic materials, such as pollen, rice and beeswax, in his installations, to create sensual experiences. Laib’s approach to collecting his materials and laying them out in a space is a very slow process, which vastly contrasts our fast-paced society. His actions are extremely precise when producing his rice or pollen piles, such that perhaps the effect it develops could only be formed through that speed. In interviews, Laib can be seen to speak lovingly of his work, as though he truly sees the beauty in it that is so easily missed. His installations are also usually temporary, moving from jars to floor and back repeatedly. When he sells his work, Laib gives no instruction on how to exhibit it, as he believes the material in itself is as beautiful as the installation.
- What is his critical position on colour in relation to his work (i.e. how is colour applied, in what proportions, what particular theories about colour inform the making of the work, how does colour change dependent upon the environment in which the work is viewed.)Laib’s works regularly sport a bright yellow, a pigment from the pollen he uses, albeit it does come in different shades. His wax rooms are also yellow, as they consist of stone-coated beeswax. In other works, he has golden boats, surrounded by rice. White is another predominant colour in his work, seen in his installations of rice piles, with several piles of pollen. Laib’s works are never a mix of colours, but a solid dominant yellow; or white or bronze or gold. For him, rather than colour, the texture and size of the medium is considerably more important.
“I wanted to have this very intense, concentrated experience […] with the pollen.”
- What type of surface treatments are used in the work? Does he use matte, satin, or gloss paints or material finishes or all of them together? Why might he do this and what is the effect of doing this?Laib refrains from using finishes on his pollen, and it is left as is. He does, however, treat it by sifting out the dust at the end of an exhibition. This may be because he considers no surface treatment required, as his installations are rarely permanent. His Milkstone installations are marble with a milk finish, but is applied and removed daily to prevent milk spoilage. Although he claims he is not a naturalist, his work is kept generally very pure, without addition of other unnecessary material. Laib treats his materials with great care, instead of finishes or treatments, when preserving them.
- What scale are the researched artworks? How does scale impact on how the work is experienced and how colour and materiality are perceived?Laib has both large-scaled work and small-scaled work, however much of his installations are spread out within a room, such as Pollen from Hazelnut and Unlimited Ocean. Although each individual pile of the chosen medium is small, the installation on a whole fills a room easily. From further away, the piles of rice or pollen don’t look as they are, and seem to just be piles of pigment. When closer up, the detail taken towards the installation can be seen. These works are said to construct an atmosphere of contemplation, as the elements are bare. Another one of his works, Wax Room, is the size of a closet, fitting a maximum of two people, but is in human scale. This creates a more intimate and warm space, where it’s patrons can bask in the glow of the soft light and gentle smell of beeswax. Perhaps in a bigger space, the smell wouldn’t be as saturated, emitting, instead, the occasional waft of fragrance.
Wolfgang Laib. (2017). En.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 1 August 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfgang_Laib
Kernan, M. (2017). Minding the “Milkstone”. Smithsonian. Retrieved 1 August 2017, from http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/minding-the-milkstone-40363241/
Tanguy, S. (2001). Making the Ideal Real: A Conversation with Wolfgang Laib. Sculpture. Retrieved 1 August 2017, from http://www.sculpture.org/documents/scmag01/may01/laib/laib.shtml
Wolfgang Laib | MoMA. (2017). The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 1 August 2017, from https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/1315?locale=en
Beauty and the Bees: Q+A with Wolfgang Laib – Interviews – Art in America. (2017). Artinamericamagazine.com. Retrieved 1 August 2017, from http://www.artinamericamagazine.com/news-features/interviews/wolfgang-laib-moma/
Journal, I. (2017). Still Points: The Quiet Spaces of Wolfgang Laib – Image Journal. Image Journal. Retrieved 1 August 2017, from https://imagejournal.org/article/still-points/
Parrott, S. (2017). German sculptor makes art of pollen piles, milky marble, wax walls | CJOnline.com. Cjonline.com. Retrieved 1 August 2017, from http://cjonline.com/stories/062401/art_sculptor.shtml#.WYfp1oiGPb3
Wolfgang Laib. (2017). Jca-online.com. Retrieved 1 August 2017, from http://www.jca-online.com/laib.html
Nathan, E. (2017). Mind His Beeswax: Wolfgang Laib Is Everywhere | ARTnews. ARTnews. Retrieved 1 August 2017, from http://www.artnews.com/2013/03/13/mind-his-beeswax-wolfgang-laib-is-everywhere/
Tane, L. (2017). Wolfgang Laib Makes Art With Yellow Pollen Fields. Beautiful/Decay. Retrieved 1 August 2017, from http://beautifuldecay.com/2014/10/21/wolfgang-laib-makes-art-yellow-pollen-fields/
Wolfgang Laib – Artists – Sperone Westwater Gallery. (2017). Speronewestwater.com. Retrieved 1 August 2017, from http://www.speronewestwater.com/artists/wolfgang-laib
Opportunities, G. (2017). “Passageway” – An Unusual Exhibition by Wolfgang Laib – Germany and India 2011-2012: Infinite Opportunities. Germany-and-india.com. Retrieved 1 August 2017, from http://www.germany-and-india.com/en/event/383
Johnson, K. (2017). Wolfgang Laib’s ‘Pollen From Hazelnut,’ at MoMA. Nytimes.com. Retrieved 1 August 2017, from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/01/arts/design/wolfgang-laibs-pollen-from-hazelnut-at-moma.html
pollen fills MoMA’s atrium in an installation by wolfgang laib. (2017). designboom | architecture & design magazine. Retrieved 1 August 2017, from https://www.designboom.com/art/pollen-fills-momas-atrium-in-an-installation-by-wolfgang-laib/
Wolfgang Laib. (2017). AFASIAARCHZINE.COM. Retrieved 1 August 2017, from http://afasiaarchzine.com/2012/12/wolfgang-laib-3/