new-york

Wolfgang Laib

Sperone Westwater

Lit with bare bulbs hanging from its ceiling, Wolfgang Laib’s The Passageway, 1988, inspired a certain amount of awe. One was engulfed by the yellow building blocks made of beeswax—a substance that recurs again and again in Laib’s works, ultimately a sacred, primordial material. (Pollen has been described by Swedish scientist, Leo C. Antes, as a “wonderful biological stimulant with high therapeutic value,” indeed, “the most potent and perfect food on earth.”) Laib’s “house,” as he calls it, has a Minimalist, back-to-basics look, but the basics it returns us to are spiritual as well as geometrical—a geometry literally revitalized and reoriginated by the use of an elemental organic substance.

Laib’s use of beeswax here, and pollen elsewhere, has been understood to connect him to Joseph Beuys, who made a number of works involving honey. But, whereas the latter premised his sculpture on the “

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