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Tuesday, January 17, 2017 to Sunday, June 11, 2017


Smart Museum of Art



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Smart Museum of Art


Leading Fluxus artist Wolf Vostell (1932–1998) used concrete as an actual material and artistic motif in a surprising number of ways in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

During this time, Vostell mobilized concrete’s ambivalent connotations of permanence and inflexibility, strength and violence, to engage with postwar urbanism, particularly German reconstruction and American urban renewal; with unrest and war, including the civil rights marches in Selma, the Paris student protests, the Vietnam and Cold wars; and with the international, if not yet global world, particularly as manifest in transatlantic travel, postcards, and the Munich Olympics.

Vostell Concrete is animated by questions of why the materials of art making matter and what they signify. It features the artist’s little known, first uses of concrete and redresses a too-limiting understanding of Vostell as a mere performance artist or belated German Pop artist. Drawn from the Smart Museum and other local, national, and international collections, the approximately 45 works on view span a variety of media, from sculpture to film, performance, collage, watercolor, and printmaking.

The exhibition is part of a collaborative series of public exhibitions, screenings, symposia, and happenings that mark the return of Vostell’s colossal Concrete Traffic (1970) to public view following a major conservation effort. The sculpture—a 1957 Cadillac encased in concrete—is part of the University of Chicago’s public art collection and will be sited in a parking garage in the immediate vicinity of the Smart Museum beginning in fall 2016.

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Christine Mehring, Professor and Chair, Department of Art History, in collaboration with Diane Miliotes, Interim Curator of Modern Art and Design, Smart Museum of Art and Caroline Lillian Schopp, UChicago Arts Curatorial Research Associate and PhD candidate in Art History

This exhibition has been made possible in part by the Smart Museum’s Pamela and R. Christopher Hoehn-Saric Exhibition Fund, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and SmartPartners.

Presented in the Robert and Joan Feitler Gallery and the Joel and Carole Bernstein Gallery