Wolfgang Laib

Wolfgang Laib

Wolfgang Laib sifting hazelnut pollen, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 1992. Courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery, New York

In early 2013, Wolfgang Laib’s Pollen from Hazelnut will inhabit the Museum’s Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium, infusing the space with a yellow luminosity. Laib perceives the Marron Atrium as the Museum’s inner sanctum, its womb, and has created this work especially for the site. It will be the artist’s largest pollen installation to date, measuring approximately 18 x 21 feet.

Since the mid-1970s, Laib (German, b. 1950) has been producing sculptures and installations marked by a serene presence and a reductive beauty. These works are often made from one or a combination of two materials accumulated from natural elements, which have been selected for their purity and symbolic meanings—such as milk, marble, pollen, rice, and beeswax. Forging a singular path for more than 30 years, Laib amplifies the intrinsic materiality, colors, and processes of nature. Laib states that “pollen is the potential beginning of the life of the plant. It is as simple, as beautiful and as complex as this. And of course it has so many meanings. I think everybody who lives knows that pollen is important.”

The hazelnut pollen that will be used in the Marron Atrium installation has been collected by Laib from the natural environment around his home and studio, located in a small village in southern Germany. The pollen for the MoMA installation represents collecting that goes back to the mid-1990s. This installation is organized by Ann Temkin, The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art.