Wolfgang Loaf

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Wolfgang Laib (born March 25, 1950 in Metzingen ) is a German artist, mainly known as a sculptor. He lives and works in a small village in southern Germany and has studios in New York and southern India. He represented Germany at the Venice Biennale in 1982 and took part in Documenta 7 in 1982 and Documenta 8 in 1987 with his works. In 2015 Wolfgang Laib was awarded the Praemium Imperiale for sculpture in Tokyo. He became world-famous for his installation “Milk Stones”, a pure geometry of white marble and milk, as well as for his intensely radiant installations with pollen. In 2013, the Museum of Modern Art in New York showed the largest ever scattered pollen - 7 m × 8 m - in the central atrium of the museum.

life and work

Wolfgang Laib was born on March 25, 1950 in Metzingen as the son of the doctor Gustav Laib and his wife Lydia. In 1962 the family moved to a small village near Biberach an der Riss . His father had built a modern glass house there in the immediate vicinity of meadows and forests. Jakob Bräckle , a landscape painter in Biberach, became a close friend of the family and sparked their enthusiasm for art. Through him she came into contact with the paintings by Kazimir Malevich, which were kept by the architect Hugo Häring in Biberach before they went to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Through this friendship, Laib got to know Far Eastern culture and philosophy, especially Lao-tse, Taoism and Zen Buddhism , from an early age . Family trips in Europe lead to sites of medieval architecture and art. Assisi, the life and teachings of St. Francis of Assisi become a powerful influence on the life and work of Laib. Further trips lead to various Asian countries, especially India.

Despite his strong interest in art, Laib began studying medicine at the University of Tübingen in 1968 . The longer the study continues, the more he begins to doubt what medicine is and means in this century. Disappointed in Western medicine, he saw the natural sciences as well as other modern ways of thinking as limited in their dependence on logic and the material world. He is increasingly interested in Eastern spirituality, philosophy, and the thinking that preceded the Renaissance. At this time Laib began to study Indology and especially Sanskrit parallel to his medical studies.

In 1972, while he was still studying medicine, he began to work on a stone sculpture in the shape of an ellipsoidal egg entitled "Brahmanda" (cosmic egg in Sanskrit). With this work, Laib decides to complete his medical studies, but then not to practice the profession of doctor and subsequently to work as an artist. In 1974 he completed his medical studies as Dr. med, leaves the university and returns to the village near Biberach. The rich experience of studying medicine in hospitals led him to create his first "milk stone" as an expression of everything he had experienced in recent years. The milk stone consists of a rectangular, polished, pure white marble, in the central upper surface of which it grinds only a very small indentation in order to fill this milk, whereby it becomes a temporary unit and fusion of the ephemeral milk and the firmness and duration of the white Marble comes.

In 1977, Loib began collecting pollen in the meadows and forests in the immediate vicinity of his village. For many days and months, from spring to summer, this activity has become an essential part of his life over many decades. The pollen is shown in various ways in the exhibitions - mostly as an intensely radiant field scattered on the floor in a rectangular shape with flowing edges. In other exhibitions, the pollen is shown in simple glasses or piled up to form small mountains.

In 1976 the first exhibition took place in the Müller-Roth gallery in Stuttgart with the first milk stones. That is the beginning of many exhibitions around the world over many decades. In 1979 and 1981 the first exhibitions took place in New York. He lives and works in Tribeca. During this time he met Carolyn Reep, a restorer of Asian art who later became his wife. In 1982 he took part in Documenta 7 and represented Germany at the Venice Biennale , together with Hanne Darboven and Gotthard Graubner. In 1985 Carolyn moves to Germany and they both get married. In 1986 their daughter Chandra Maria was born.

From 1983 he will use other materials such as rice, beeswax, letter seals, Burmese lacquer and various metals. At the beginning there are smaller works made of beeswax, which are soon followed by very large installations, entire beeswax rooms and high step pyramids with the title "Ziggurat". The selection of these natural materials has deep meanings, but it is not limited to them. It's more about your inner being than the path to far more complex ideas and concepts. As he himself says: " I did what I wanted to do as a doctor with my works of art. I never changed my profession." It was always much less about innovation or formal development than about continuity. It is not about a chronological order, more about a cycle, whereby the same shape and materials are used over and over again. Laib sees itself participating in the universality and timelessness that are already given in nature. In his works, micro- and macrocosms come together in a way that redefines our place in the world.

In 2000 the first permanent wax room was built in the Roc del Maure in the southern Pyrenees near Perignan. Other wax rooms follow, on the studio premises in southern Germany, in the Lower Engadine in Switzerland, in the Phillips Collection in Washington DC and a 50 m long corridor for Anselm Kiefer 2014 in Barjac, southern France. A first retrospective of his works toured the USA from 2000 to 2002 and was a. a. in the Hirshhorn Museum , Washington DC, later on in the Munich House of Art .

In 2006 Wolfgang Laib decided to set up a studio in a small village in the mountains of Madurai, South India. In the following years he will spend at least two months a year there, new works will be created with black granite, ash and other materials. He makes the proposal of a large Brahmanda, 20 m long, to be realized on the bare granite mountain Pulimalai near Madurai. In 2010, Carolyn and Wolfgang bought a small room in Manhattan that quickly became a meeting place for many people from all over the world and created relationships with the American art world.

Exhibitions and installations

  • 1976 Exhibition at Galerie Müller-Roth, Stuttgart
  • 1982 Wolfgang Laib represents Germany at the Venice Biennale together with Hanne Darboven and Gotthard Graubner
  • 1982 and 1987 Laib takes part in the Documenta
  • 1985 Harald Szeemann invites Laib to the exhibition “Traces, Sculptures and Monuments of their Precise Journey” at the Kunsthaus Zürich, where he shows the pollen mountains “the five unconquerable mountains”. For both of them this work unites their visions and dreams of art and their life. This is the beginning of a long and intensive relationship with many exhibitions around the world
  • 2000 Laib realizes its first permanent wax room in the mountains of the southern Pyrenees, Roc del Maure, near Perpignan, France
  • 2000 - 2002 A major retrospective, curated by Klaus Ottmann, is shown in five American museums, first in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC and finally in the Haus der Kunst in Munich
  • From 2002 to 2003, major exhibitions were held in several museums in Japan and Korea, including the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, Toyota City and Seoul
  • 2004 Laib realizes a large wax room on his studio premises in southern Germany
  • In 2005 the Fondation Beyeler in Basel devotes a large exhibition to Laib
  • 2013 The Museum of Modern Art in New York shows a large pollen - 7 mx 8 m - in the central atrium of the museum. At the same time he is realizing a permanent wax room in the Phillips Collection in Washington DC
  • 2014 Anselm Kiefer invites Laib to realize a 50 m long wax walk on his studio premises in Barjac, southern France
  • 2014 Laib exhibits his large step pyramid "Ziggurat" in the Basilica of Sant 'Apollinare in Classe in Ravenna, Italy
  • 2015 The exhibition Royal Class III - Contemporary Art from the Pinakothek der Moderne in Herrenchiemsee Palace shows an installation of pollen from pine trees

The following galleries showed his work for many years:

  • Konrad Fischer Gallery, Düsseldorf
  • Sperone Westwater Gallery, New York
  • Buchmann Gallery, Berlin, Lugano
  • Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg, Paris
  • Kenji Taki Gallery, Tokyo, Nagoya
  • Alfonso Artiaco Gallery, Naples

Monographs and Catalogs

  • MASI Museum, Lugano: Marc Franciolli and Simone Menegoi. Wolfgang Loaf . Lugano, MASI and Edizioni Casagrande, 2017. Contains an extensive chronology of the artist.
  • Ravenna: Wolfgang Laib at Sant'Apollinare in Classe. With texts selected by Wolfgang Laib and an interview with the artist by Maria Rita Bentini, Gian Enzo Sperone, Turin, 2016.
  • Fondazione Merz: Wolfgang Laib. Mahayagna - Vedic fire ritual - with Brahmins from South India. Texts by Beatrice Merz and Maria Centonze, Frederico Squarcini, interview with the artist by Klaus Ottmann, Turin, 2009.
  • Marco A. Sorace: "The intensity can be so strong that there is no separation". On the relationship between art and meditation in Wolfgang Laib. In: meditation. Journal for Christian Spirituality and Lifestyle 35 (2009), pp. 30–34.
  • Grenoble Museum: Wolfgang Laib. Without place - without time - without body. Text by Guy Tosatto. Musée de Grenoble and Actes Sud, 2008.
  • Reina Sofia Museum Madrid: Wolfgang Laib. Sin Principio Sin Fin. Texts by Antonio Gamoneda, José Maria-Medina and Carlos Ortega. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, 2007.
  • Hannelore Kersting (arrangement): Contemporary art. 1960 to 2007 . Municipal Museum Abteiberg Mönchengladbach, 2007, ISBN 978-3-924039-55-4 .
  • Beyeler Foundation, Basel: Wolfgang Laib. The ephemeral is the eternal. Texts by Katharina Schmidt, Philipp Büttner, Ulf Küster, Christoph Vitali, Harald Szeemann and Wolfgang Laib. With a brief chronology of the artist. Fondation Beyeler, Basel and Hatje Cantz, Stuttgart, 2005.
  • Museum Macro, Rome: Wolfgang Laib. Text by Danilo Eccher, Museo Macro, Roma and Electa Edizioni, Milan, 2005.
  • Kunstmuseum Bonn and De Pont Museum Tilburg: The essence of the real. Wolfgang Loaf. Drawings and photographs. Texts by Christoph Schreier and Klaus Ottmann. Kunstmuseum Bonn and De Pont Museum, Tilburg, 2005.
  • Toyota Municipal Museum of Art: Wolfgang Laib. Text by Tadashi Kanai. Toyota City, 2003.
  • National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul: Wolfgang Laib. Text by Seungwan Kang et al. a. Seoul, 2003.
  • The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo: Wolfgang Laib. Text by Tohru Matsumo, Tokyo 2003.
  • Retrospective in the USA and German edition Haus der Kunst, Munich: Wolfgang Laib. A retrospective / retrospective. Texts by Klaus Ottmann, Margit Rowell. Conversation with the artist by Harald Szeemann. With a chronology and a bibliography. English edition: AFA, New York and Hatje Cantz, Stuttgart, 2000. German edition: Haus der Kunst, Munich and Hatje Cantz, Stuttgart, 2002.
  • Kunsthaus Bregenz: Wolfgang Laib . Text by Elisabeth Samsonow. Interview with the artist by Rudolf Sagmeister, Bregenz, 1999.
  • Musée Carré d'Art, Nimes: Wolfgang Laib. Somewhere Else. Text by Guy Tosatto, Nimes, 1999.
  • Munstmuseum Bonn and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles: Wolfgang Laib . Texts by Klaus Schrenk, Kerry Brougher and Donald Kuspit, Bonn, Los Angeles and Hatje Cantz, Stuttgart, 1992.
  • Ascona Museum: Wolfgang Laib. Text by Harald Szeemann, Ascona, 1992.
  • Museum Capc, Bordeaux: Wolfgang Laib. Text by Jean-Marc Avrilla, Bordeaux, 1992.
  • Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart: Wolfgang Laib. Texts by Tilman Osterwold, Johannes Cladders, Hans-Joachim Müller, Harald Szeemann, Stuttgart 1989.
  • ARC - Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris: Wolfgang Laib. Text by Harald Szeemann. Interview with the artist by Suzanne Pagé, Paris, 1986.
  • Venice Biennale, German Pavilion and Museum Abteiberg Mönchengladbach: Wolfgang Laib. text by Johannes Cladders. Venice, Museum Mönchengladbach and Hatje Cantz, 1982.
  • Art Space Munich: Wolfgang Laib. Text by Hermann Kern. Munich, 1978.



Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Fondation Beyeler (Ed.): Wolfgang Laib: Catalog de l'exposition . Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern-Ruit 2005, ISBN 3-7757-1736-6 , p. 20 .
  2. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Fondation Beyeler (Ed.): Wolfgang Laib: Catalog de l'exposition . Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern-Ruit 2005, ISBN 3-7757-1736-6 , p. 114 .
  3. Wolfgang Laib receives Praemium Imperiale. Zeit Online , September 10, 2015, accessed November 20, 2015 .
  4. ^ A b Praemium Imperiale for Wolfgang Laib. Federal Government , September 10, 2015, accessed on November 20, 2015 .
  5. a b Wolfgang Laib: 23 January - 11 March 2013. In: The Museum of Modern Art New York. 2013, accessed June 12, 2018 .
  6. a b c Fondation Beyeler (Ed.): Wolfgang Laib: Catalog de l'exposition . Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern-Ruit 2005, ISBN 3-7757-1736-6 , p. 21 .
  7. Karin Ego-Gaal: Laib, Wolfgang: The transient is the eternal. Art History Portal , January 11, 2006, accessed November 20, 2015 .
  8. Harvest in the raised bog. Der Spiegel , May 17, 1982, accessed November 20, 2015 .
  9. Fondation Beyeler (ed.): Wolfgang Laib: Catalog de l'exposition . Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern-Ruit 2005, ISBN 3-7757-1736-6 , p. 23 .
  10. Wolfgang Laib: The beauty of the pollen. In: FOCUS online. October 20, 2015, accessed June 12, 2018 .
  11. Fondation Beyeler (ed.): Wolfgang Laib: Catalog de l'exposition . Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern-Ruit 2005, ISBN 3-7757-1736-6 , p. 33 .
  12. Fondation Beyeler (ed.): Wolfgang Laib: Catalog de l'exposition . Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern-Ruit 2005, ISBN 3-7757-1736-6 , p. 34-35 .
  13. a b Martin Brauen: 35 hectares for art. In: Tagesanzeiger.ch. Tagesanzeiger, August 29, 2014, accessed June 12, 2018 .
  14. Christina Bayer / Silke Wünsch: Wolfgang Laib: Art claims to change people. In: Deutsche Welle. Deutsche Welle, October 20, 2015, accessed June 12, 2018 .
  15. Karin Ego-Gaal: Laib, Wolfgang: The transient is the eternal. In: Portal Art History. January 11, 2016, accessed June 12, 2018 .
  16. Loaf wax room. In: The Phillips Collection. The Phillips Collection, Washington DC. Retrieved June 12, 2018 .
  17. Wolfgang Laib at Sant 'Apollinare in Classe. In: Ravenna Tourism. Ravenna Tourism, October 9, 2014, accessed June 12, 2018 .
  18. KÖNIGSKLASSE III - Contemporary art from the Pinakothek der Moderne in Herrenchiemsee Palace. In: tabularasa newspaper for society and culture. Retrieved July 21, 2019 .
  19. ^ Artists. In: Galerie Konrad Fischer. Retrieved June 12, 2018 .
  20. ^ Artists. In: Sperone Westwater. Retrieved June 12, 2018 .
  21. ^ Artists: Wolfgang Laib. In: Galerie Buchmann. Retrieved June 12, 2018 .
  22. Wolfgang Laib. In: Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac. Retrieved June 12, 2018 .
  23. Artists: Wolfgang LOAF. In: Kenji Taki. Retrieved June 12, 2018 .
  24. Wolfgang Laib. In: Alfonso Artiaco. Retrieved June 12, 2018 .
  25. Information on the official website of the Praemium Imperiale ( Memento of the original from September 27, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (with curriculum vitae and laudatory speech, English) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.praemiumimperiale.org
  26. exhibitions. In: Museum of Modern Art New York. Retrieved June 13, 2018 .
  27. Collections. Retrieved June 13, 2018 .
  28. Collections. In: Art Institute of Chicago. Retrieved June 13, 2018 .
  29. Exposure. In: Center Georges-Pompidou. Retrieved June 13, 2018 .
  30. Wolfgang Laib. Retrieved June 13, 2018 .
  31. Wolfgang Laib. Retrieved June 13, 2018 .