David Katzive, installation view of Wolf Vostell's Concrete Traffic, January 1970. Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
To celebrate the reinstallation of Concrete Traffic (1970)—a major public sculpture by leading Fluxus artist Wolf Vostell—the University of Chicago presents a nine-month-long series of free public programs that situate Concrete Traffic and Vostell's other non-ephemeral works within the larger Fluxus movement. Programming includes two original exhibitions focusing on various aspects of Vostell's diverse oeuvre to explore the intersection of visual art, architecture, and urbanism, and provoke new dialogue around materials and meaning. The Smart Museum will offer the first in-depth investigation of Vostell's use of a ubiquitous twentieth-century building material—concrete—to engage with societal trends of his day and critique the ways in which the material environment both reflects and shapes human experience. The Neubauer Collegium's exhibition highlights key projects by Vostell, other Fluxus artists, and their contemporaries that sought to creatively disrupt and transform the relationship between individuals and public space.
A cofounder of the Fluxus movement in Europe, Wolf Vostell (1932–1998) was a German artist known for his pioneering "happenings" and mixed-media works integrating such nontraditional materials as concrete, televisions, and cars. Between 1954 and 1988, he staged more than fifty happenings in Europe and America while simultaneously creating graphic works, artist's books, paintings, films, and large-scale objects and environmental installations. In the mid-1970s, he received his first major retrospectives at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, and founded the Museo Vostell Malpartida in Spain, home to Vostell's extensive archive, which documents his own works and those of Fluxus colleagues including Nam June Paik, George Maciunas, Allan Kaprow, and Dick Higgins.
Christine Mehring is chair and professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago. Born in Germany, she holds an MA in art criticism from SUNY Stony Brook and an MA/PhD in art history from Harvard University. Prior to joining UChicago, she was an assistant professor at Yale University. She is the author of Blinky Palermo: Abstraction of an Era (Yale, 2008) and coeditor of Gerhard Richter: Early Work, 1951–1972 (Getty, 2010). She has previously curated exhibitions at the Harvard Art Museum and the Yale University Art Gallery.
Jacob Proctor is curator of Neubauer Collegium exhibitions and a lecturer in contemporary art and criticism at the University of Chicago. Previously, he was curator at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (2007–11) and the Aspen Art Museum (2011–14). His many exhibitions include Multiple Strategies: Beuys, Maciunas, Fluxus (Harvard Art Museum, 2007), as well as recent solo projects with Katarina Burin, Rosemarie Trockel, and Morgan Fisher. A regular contributor to Artforum, Proctor's writing has appeared in numerous exhibition catalogues, including Fluxus and the Essential Questions of Life, Stan VanDerBeek: The Culture Intercom, and Fluxus: A Creative Revolution.
Established in 2012, the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society is an institute for integrative research in humanities and humanistic social sciences, facilitating cross-disciplinary and collaborative faculty research projects, a global fellows initiative, and public exhibitions that explore novel approaches to complex human questions.
Founded in 1974, the Smart Museum of Art opens the world through art and ideas, bringing pioneering arts scholarship and free, high-caliber visual arts programming to audiences throughout Chicago and beyond.