30,000 piles of rice in chicago (not to eat, looking only)

You can see it in person at the Art Institute of Chicago, through December 23, 2011.  German artist Wolfgang Laib worked with School of the Art Institute alumni for 10 days in October to pour precise mounds of rice in an installation that covers most of the Sullivan North Gallery.

Wofgang LaibWofgang Laib, Unlimited Ocean

The installation includes seven piles of bright yellow pollen. These materials are not new to Laib – he concentrates his work on a few select materials, such as pollen, milk, beeswax, marble, rice and sealing wax.

“From things and processes existing in nature, he takes the motifs of his art. From nature come all of the materials he uses. He lives and works in harmony with the natural course of the year and its seasons: times of major work, when dandelion, hazelnut or pine is in bloom, and times of quiet in winter, when he polishes the marble for a milkstone in his atelier.” – from Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa), 2000

Wolfgang LaibWolfgang Laib, Milkstone

“Milkstone” consists of a flat, white, marble sheet, hollowed out to the incredibly fine depth of one millimeter. This hollow is then filled with milk to the top of the horizontal level.

Wolfgang LaibWolfgang Laib, Sifting Hazelnut Tree Pollen, 1986.

Laib began his studies in medicine, and from this initial start in science he became fascinated with the materials that now make up his art installations. The pollen in the photo above was hand collected by the artist from the fields surrounding his home in the Black Forest of Germany.

Having done much work in Southern India, he is influenced by foreign culture and eastern philosophy.  He does not consider his art merely about naturalism, but much more complex, and including a sense of spiritualism.

YouTube has many clips featuring this interesting artist.  Here is one to get you started:  Wolfgang Laib pouring milk onto a marble sheet

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