Christine Mehring

Biography

Christine Mehring works on modern and contemporary art. Her research, writing, and teaching focus on abstraction, particularly the ways in which non-mimetic forms, colors, and non-traditional materials come to signify in relation to specific historical contexts; postwar European art, especially the impact of World War II and the transformation from an international art world to a global one; the cross-overs between art and design, including interior and furniture design, wall-painting, the traditionally feminine applied arts like weaving and embroidery, and public art; and photography and the relations between old and new media, including their convergences with histories and practices of abstract art.

In recent years, she has directed the project “Material Matters,” which included the research, material investigation, and conservation of Fluxus artist Wolf Vostell’s Concrete Traffic (1970), in collaboration with the conservator Christian Scheidemann. Made from a 1957 Cadillac covered in c. 20 tons of concrete, this colossal public sculpture returned to campus in fall 2016, launching the university-wide year-long program "Concrete Happenings." It included an exhibition of Vostell’s work with concrete she curated with her former PhD advisee Caroline Schopp (who also curated her own separate exhibition on postwar Germanic artists’ books). Mehring is now at work with Lisa Zaher on an edited volume concerning Vostell’s use of concrete and the conservation of Concrete Traffic. She has since spearheaded other public art projects, including the creation with students of the University’s public art website, the commission of “Nuclear Thresholds” by Ogrydziak Prillinger Architects (OPA) for the 75th anniversary of the Chicago Pile 1, and the public program "Dialogo: Virginio Ferrari and Chicago," part of the Terra Foundation’s Art Design Chicago initiative.

She is also completing a book with IIT architectural historian Sean Keller on the art and architecture of the Munich Olympics, addressing their multiple significances for West German and North American cultures coming to terms with their “postwar” identities, for transatlantic exchange and the formation of an international art world, for the dilemmas of postwar national monumentality, and for computational methods of contemporary architectural design. Other ongoing research focuses on Joseph Beuys’ use of fat, Gerhard Richter’s overpainted photographs, and the relationship of Donald Judd's art and design.

Her work has been supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation, the Canadian Center for Architecture, the Graham Foundation, the Reva and David Logan Foundation, and the Terra Foundation for American Art. In 2011, she received the University of Chicago’s Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching. She currently serves as Chair of the Department of Art History.

Publications

“Mass and Ornament,” in Thomas Bayrle: Playtime, exh. cat. (New York: New Museum, 2018)

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Ellsworth Kelly, Color Panels for a Large Wall (New York: Matthew Marks, forthcoming 2018)

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Through Palermo’s Eye,” in Sadie Benning: Shared Eye, exh. cat. (Chicago: Renaissance Society, forthcoming 2018)

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Car Culture,” Artforum (January 2017)

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“Benjamin Buchloh, Art Historian,” Texte zur Kunst (September 2016)

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“Rebuilding the Future,” with Sean Keller, Parkett 98 (Spring 2016)

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“Andrzej Zielinski, Time Warps,” in Andrzej Zielinski, exh. cat. (Overland Park: Nerman MoCA, 2016)

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“Shock Value: Sigmar Polke,” Artforum (April 2014)

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“Polke’s Rapport,” Sigmar Polke: Alibis, 1963-2010, exh. cat. (New York: Museum of Modern Art, and London: Tate Modern, 2014)

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“Capitalist Realist Information Art,” in Manfred Kuttner: Phänomene und Realitäten, exh. cat. and catalogue raisonné (Esslingen: Villa Merkel, and Neuss: Langen Foundation, 2013)

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Exhibitions

Vostell Concrete, 1969-1973” (with Caroline Schopp), Smart Museum of Art, 2017

“What is a line? Minimalist Drawings” (with students), Yale University Art Gallery, 2007

“Dieter Roth, Books,” Fine Arts Library, Harvard University, 2000

“Wols Photographs,” Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University, 1999

Profiles

Charles Cohen
Charles Cohen
Italian Renaissance and Mannerist Art
CWAC 258
773.702.0619
Potters Wheel
Richard Neer
Ancient Greek Art and Architecture
CWAC 259
773.702.5890
Andrei Pop
Andrei Pop
Modern Art and Aesthetics
1130 East 59th Street
773.702.8410
Megan Sullivan
Megan Sullivan
Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art
CWAC 272
773.702.5126
Lisa Zaher
Modern and Contemporary Art
2013-14
University of Chicago
Conservation Research Fellow