The latest artwork to join the permanent Phillips Collection in Washington isn't an oil painting, a sketch or even a sculpture. It's a small room that will be coated with more than 800 pounds of beeswax and where one to two people at a time can squeeze in and behold its golden-tinged walls.
The idea is to create "a meditative encounter that is expected to be immediate and intense," according to a museum statement.
The installation is the brainchild of German artist Wolfgang Laib, who in the past has created temporary wax rooms at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and at several European museums. You might remember him from an artwork that began in 1975, called Milkstone, in which a marble slab was filled with fresh milk every day. The Phillips would not divulge the cost of the wax room.
The wax room is the first created for a specific museum site. It will be in the part of the original museum that was founder Duncan Phillips' home and marks the first permanent installation at the museum since a room of paintings by Mark Rothko opened in 1960. The Phillips is best known for the Renoir painting "Luncheon of the Boating Party."