NEW YORK, NY.- The Museum of Modern Art
presents Pollen from Hazelnut, a pollen field by the artist Wolfgang Laib, in The Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium from January 23 to March 11, 2013. The work is the artists largest pollen-based installation to date, measuring approximately 18 by 21 feet. This presentation is organized by Lilian Tone, Assistant Curator, and Ann Temkin, The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture.
Wolfgang Laib (German, b. 1950) created his first pollen field in 1977, and has since collected pollen on a yearly basis, spring through summer, in the forests and meadows near his home in a small village in southern Germany. In a solitary, ceremonial endeavor, Laib manually harvests pollen from one plant at a time. This physically demanding activity involves devotion and discipline, and notions of time, labor, ritual, and the process of art making are rethought. To present his works, Laib sieves pollen directly onto the floor, creating a ground of radiant color that is at once material and immaterial. Once the exhibition ends, the artist retrieves the pollen, cleans it, and stores it in sealed glass jars. The work at MoMA is the equivalent of approximately 18 such jars. Laib has been collecting the hazelnut pollen used in MoMAs installation from the natural environment around his home and studio since the mid-1990s. Pollen, a primordial substance as potent as it is fragile, is recontextualized here as a vibrant celebration of life.
Since the 1970s, Laib has produced 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 associationsincluding milk, marble, pollen, rice, and beeswax. Forging a singular path for more than 30 years, Laib amplifies the intrinsic materials and processes found in nature.
In conjunction with the installation, the Museum is showing a short film of Wolfgang Laib in his home and studio in southern Germany in the summer of 2012 and at MoMA in January 2013. It documents the artist's working process, from the collection of pollen at a nearby pine forest to the completion of the work Pollen from Hazelnut at MoMA. It will be screened on a wall monitor adjacent to the Marron Atrium installation.
Laib was born in 1950 in Southern Germany, where he lives and works, in the place that has always been his home. As a teenager, he started traveling with his parents to India, where he established a second studio six years ago. Laib studied medicine in Tübingen, completing his doctor's degree in 1974, one year after he embarked upon making art. Parallel to his medical education, he studied Sanskrit, philosophy and religion, especially Buddhism and Jainism. Laib's art singularly embodies the encounter of Eastern and Western cultural references and traditions.