Concrete Traffic

Pictured is a historical installation view of “Concrete Traffic.”

A procession of artistic proportions will be held at noon today in Chicago.

Arts fans can watch as the Fluxus sculpture “Concrete Traffic” gets moved to its permanent home in a parking garage at the University of Chicago. “Concrete Traffic” is a sculpture created by artist Wolf Vostell, who crafted the piece in 1970.

The sculpture weighs 16 tons and is actually a 1957 Cadillac De Ville encased in concrete. The procession will begin at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave., and continue on to the area near the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago where it will be permanently displayed. Along the procession route there will be performances and other programs for people to enjoy.

There will be a free public discussion at MCA Plaza prior to the sculpture being moved. Later at the corner of Ontario and St. Claire Streets where the sculpture was created and “parked” for months in 1970, there will be a performance inspired by “Danger Music” by artist Dick Higgins.

“This is an amazing opportunity to bring it back, but it’s also terrifying,” said Christine Mehring, chair and professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago. Mehring instituted the conservation of “Concrete Traffic.”

The sculpture was originally commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art and after a few months at the museum’s former location near Ontario and St. Clair, it was given to the University of Chicago. It sat in an outdoor lot at 60th Street and Drexel Avenue for quite some time.

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Mehring said, through the last four decades, the sculpture had been decaying and when she found out about it, she wanted to help bring the sculpture back to life.

“(I learned) we had this great art which was not being showcased well. A lot seemed to be decaying (on it),” she said.

The conservation process on the work began about four years ago. “I thought we must bring this back to the public,” Mehring said.

“In storage, a work is not useful, it’s dormant,” she said. Mehring explained that “Concrete Traffic,” was meant to be a happening when it was made. “It’s really an event sculpture. It’s like a performance.”

With the recent return of “Concrete Traffic” to the University of Chicago and the fact it will have a prominent place to be exhibited once again, there will be a variety of programs held in conjunction with the installation.

These programs or “Concrete Happenings” will include a Drive-In Happening, which will feature the projection of auto-related movies and videos by Vostell, which takes place Oct. 14 at the University’s North Parking Garage. For more information on other programs and “Concrete Traffic,” visit arts.uchicago.edu/concretehappenings.


Entertainment Editor/Features Reporter

Eloise is A&E Editor and a food, entertainment and features writer for The Times, subjects she has covered for over two decades in and around the Region. She was the youngest of eight in a Chicago household filled with fantastic cooks and artists.