Artist Wolfgang Laib has been painstakingly collecting hazelnut pollen from the natural environment around his home and studio since the mid-1990s. He lives in a small village in southern Germany. Now, he’s using that pollen as part of his latest installation at MoMA’s Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium, Pollen from Hazelnut.
Laib describes why he used pollen for this project in particular, saying, “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.”
Lilian Tone, Assistant Curator, and Ann Temkin, The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture organized the installation, which will run through March 11,2013.
Wolfgang Laib says the atrium represents MoMA’s “inner sanctum” and its “womb.” He created this work especially for this particular location, and it will be his largest yet. His other works have used other elements from the natural environment, such as milk, marble, pollen, rice, and beeswax. He has been active as a sculptor and artist since the mid 1970’s, and chooses his materials based on their purity and symbolism.
Before his career as an artist, Wolfgang Laib studied medicine, completing his dissertation in the early 1970s on the hygiene of drinking water. Soon after, though, he decided that was not the career path he wanted to pursue. More interested in art, culture, and philosophy, Laib abandoned the “too narrow” studies of medicine and natural science to study concepts that incorporated the body as well as the spirit.