b. 1950, Ghana

Wolfgang Laib Artworks

Wolfgang Laib combines natural, perishable materials such as milk, pollen, rice, beeswax, and wood, sometimes also using stone and metals, to create simple forms and environments that connect with Eastern philosophical concepts of timelessness, universality, life, and nature.

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Pollen

Laib's pollen works are the result of a laborious ritual process. Laib began collecting pollen from hazelnuts, buttercups, dandelions, and other plants in 1977. Annually, during summer and spring, the artist collects pollen by hand from the fields and forests surrounding his home village near Germany's Black Forest.

Laib presents the gathered pollen in jars, like in Pollen Jars on a Shelf (2003), or spreads it on the floor, sometimes evenly, other times making small, concentrated mounds. The resulting works are rich in colour and scent, as well as meaning. 'I think everybody who lives knows that pollen is important,' Laib says, noting the symbolism of these life-giving particles.

One of Laib's largest pollen installations, Pollen from Hazelnut (2013) temporarily covered 18-by-21 feet of the atrium of the Museum of Modern Art in New York with bright yellow hazelnut pollen that he had been gathering for over a decade.

Rice House

Laib first began working with rice in 1983. Laib's 'rice houses' are an enduring motif, in which solid materials in the shape of a basic house are placed upon mounds of rice. Typically, Laib uses marble, as seen in Rice House (1988), Rice House (1996), and Marmorhaus (2011), but he has also made granite and wooden houses.

Additionally, Laib has placed simple brass ships on rising waves of rice for the 'Passageway' series (2013). As with the pollen, Laib also presents rice laid out in mounds, such as his temporary installation Crossing the River (2022) at the B√ľndner Kunstmuseum Chur, Switzerland.

Beeswax

In 1987, Laib began working with beeswax, creating his first wax chamber, The Passageway, the following year. The Passageway is a wooden hallway construction lined with wax panels and illuminated by two lightbulbs.

In 2013, Laib's first permanent beeswax room installation opened at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. Where have you gone — where are you going? (2013), an otherworldly empty room with beeswax-lined walls, echoes the calming, meditative space of the Collection's Rothko Room. In 2014, Laib completed his largest beeswax project, an entire underground beeswax space beneath Studio Anselm Kiefer in Barjac, France.

Laib also produces smaller-scale beeswax sculptures, such as Wachsschiff (Wax ship) (1996) and Without Beginning and Without End (2005), a wood and wax stair construction.

Browse Artworks
Milk Stone by Wolfgang Laib contemporary artwork sculpture
Wolfgang Laib Milk Stone, 1993–1994 Macedonian marble
2 x 135 x 125 cm
Buchmann Galerie Contact Gallery
Rice House by Wolfgang Laib contemporary artwork sculpture
Wolfgang Laib Rice House, 2008 Red sealing wax on wood, rice
17.5 x 14 x 73 cm
Buchmann Galerie Contact Gallery
Rice House by Wolfgang Laib contemporary artwork sculpture
Wolfgang Laib Rice House, 2007 Black on red Burmese lacquer on wood, rice
47 x 23 x 135 cm
Buchmann Galerie Contact Gallery
Brahmanda by Wolfgang Laib contemporary artwork sculpture
Wolfgang Laib Brahmanda, 2014-2021 Indian black granite
50 x 50 x 95 cm
Buchmann Galerie Contact Gallery
untitled by Wolfgang Laib contemporary artwork sculpture
Wolfgang Laib untitled, 2015 Black Burmese lacquer on wood
42 x 53 x 33 cm
Buchmann Galerie Contact Gallery
Rice House by Wolfgang Laib contemporary artwork sculpture
Wolfgang Laib Rice House, 2009 Red sealing wax on wood, rice
19 x 18.5 x 95 cm
Buchmann Galerie Contact Gallery
Untitled (Stairs) by Wolfgang Laib contemporary artwork sculpture
Wolfgang Laib Untitled (Stairs), 2002 Burmese red lacquer and wood
125 x 41 x 84 cm
Hauser & Wirth Enquire
Tower of Silence by Wolfgang Laib contemporary artwork sculpture, installation, mixed media
Wolfgang Laib Tower of Silence, 2019 Beeswax
74.5 x 15 x 17.5 cm
Buchmann Galerie Contact Gallery
Untitled by Wolfgang Laib contemporary artwork sculpture
Wolfgang Laib Untitled, 2015 Beeswax
32 x 16 x 14 cm
Buchmann Galerie Contact Gallery
Untitled by Wolfgang Laib contemporary artwork sculpture
Wolfgang Laib Untitled, 2006 Beeswax, wood
345 x 180 x 70 cm
Buchmann Galerie Contact Gallery
Rice House by Wolfgang Laib contemporary artwork sculpture
Wolfgang Laib Rice House, 2009 Indian granite, red pigment, sunflower oil, rice
17 x 9 x 75 cm
Buchmann Galerie Contact Gallery
Rice House by Wolfgang Laib contemporary artwork sculpture
Wolfgang Laib Rice House, 2013 White marble, rice
35 x 15 x 160 cm
Buchmann Galerie Contact Gallery
Untitled by Wolfgang Laib contemporary artwork sculpture
Wolfgang Laib Untitled, 2012 Pure silver, rice
13 x 15 x 47 cm
Buchmann Galerie Contact Gallery
House by Wolfgang Laib contemporary artwork sculpture
Wolfgang Laib House, 2001 Beeswax
44 x 38 x 32 cm
Buchmann Galerie Contact Gallery
Rice House by Wolfgang Laib contemporary artwork sculpture
Wolfgang Laib Rice House, 2008 Sealing wax on wood, rice
21 x 42 x 42 cm
Buchmann Galerie Contact Gallery
House by Wolfgang Laib contemporary artwork sculpture
Wolfgang Laib House, 1990 beeswax
20 x 13 x 55 cm
Buchmann Galerie Contact Gallery
Bagan, Burma (Myanmar) by Wolfgang Laib contemporary artwork photography
Wolfgang Laib Bagan, Burma (Myanmar), 2000 silver gelatin on baryta
27.9 x 35.6 cm
Buchmann Galerie Contact Gallery
Zikkurat by Wolfgang Laib contemporary artwork sculpture
Wolfgang Laib Zikkurat, 2016 Beeswax
46 x 48 x 8 cm
Buchmann Galerie Contact Gallery
Rice House by Wolfgang Laib contemporary artwork sculpture
Wolfgang Laib Rice House, 2013 white marble, rice
23 x 10.5 x 90 cm
Buchmann Galerie Contact Gallery
Rice House by Wolfgang Laib contemporary artwork sculpture
Wolfgang Laib Rice House, 2008 Indian granite, red pigment, sunflower oil, rice
40 x 27 x 180 cm
Buchmann Galerie Contact Gallery
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