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CAR CULTURE: WOLF VOSTELL’S CONCRETE TRAFFIC

Conservation specialists work on the underside of Wolf Vostell’s Concrete Traffic, 1970, Chicago, April 5, 2016. Photo: Stephen Murphy. © The Wolf Vostell Estate.

I’VE NEVER FELT such a rush of excitement as when I first saw Wolf Vostell’s Concrete Traffic, 1970, one summer day in 2011. There it was: a vintage Cadillac encased in a massive shell of concrete, sitting in an industrial wasteland on Chicago’s West Side, ceding its precarious nature as art even further to dirt and moss built up along the passenger and driver sides, patches obtrusively mismatched and I-beam crutches crudely pushed underneath its chassis—irredeemable, one imagines, even to the entropic vision of Robert Smithson. And yet this was unquestionably a twin of the German Fluxus artist’s Ruhender Verkehr (Stationary Traffic), 1969, a public sculpture parked since 1989 on Hohenzollernring in downtown Cologne, which I had grown fond of during pilgrimages to Walther König’s nearby bookstore. It’s what I hoped I might find when, a few weeks prior, as part of a campus

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