Nick Cave is an artist, educator and foremost a messenger, working between the visual and performing arts through a wide range of mediums including sculpture, installation, video, sound and performance. He says of himself "I have found my middle and now am working toward what I am leaving behind." Cave is well known for his Soundsuits, sculptural forms based on the scale of his body. Soundsuits camouflage the body, masking and creating a second skin that conceals race, gender, and class, forcing the viewer to look without judgment.
In a 2013 feature in Interview Magazine, Cave said of his project HEARD•NY, a large scale performance in Grand Central Terminal organized by Creative Time, “I was really thinking of getting us back to this dream state, this place where we imagine and think about now and how we exist and function in the world. With the state of affairs on the world, I think we tend not to take the time out to create that dream space in our heads.” This is relevant to his practice as a whole.
A solo exhibition of Cave’s work was recently on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (2014). Other recent solo exhibitions include Nick Cave: Sojourn at the Denver Art Museum; Nick Cave: The World is My Skin, Trapholt Museum, Denmark; Freeport 006: Nick Cave, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem; and Fantastic 2012, Lille 3000, Tri Postal, Lille. Cave will have a solo exhibition at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in 2016.
Public collections include the Brooklyn Museum; Crystal Bridges; the Detroit Institute of Arts; the High Museum; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; the Norton Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Birmingham Museum of Art; the De Young Museum; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Orlando Museum of Art; the Smithsonian Institution; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others.
Cave has received several prestigious awards including: the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award (2008), Artadia Award (2006), the Joyce Award (2006), Creative Capital Grants (2002, 2004 and 2005), and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2001). Cave, who received his MFA at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, is Professor and Chairman of the Fashion Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Nick Cave has been represented by Jack Shainman Gallery since 2006 when he had a show entitled Soundsuits. Other solo exhibitions at the gallery include Recent Soundsuits (2009), Ever-After (2011) and a two-part exhibition Made by Whites for Whites and Rescue (2014).
NICK CAVE NEWS
The exhibition presents a selection of the artist’s new creations – freestanding sculptures bursting with ceramic flowers and birds, beads, and other cast-off oddities - as well as several new Soundsuits and large bas-relief sculptures that Cave calls “paintings.”
Nick Cave first gained widespread recognition for his Soundsuits: full-body outfits crafted from discarded objects found in antique shops and flea markets. Part sculpture, part costume, the complex, kaleidoscopically colorful works of art can be displayed as objects, and also often feature in solo and group movement performances.
Although the suits appear vibrant and joyful, crafted from materials such as buttons, beads, and bright synthetic fur, their origin is more sober. Cave created his first Soundsuit after the Rodney King beating in 1992. “I built this sort of suit of armor, and by putting it on, I realized that I could make a sound from moving in it,” Cave told The Washington Post. “It made me think of ideas around protest, and how we should be a voice and speak louder.”
BOSTON GLOGE - FEBRUARY 06, 2014
By Sebastian Smee
In an inspired piece of programming, the Institute of Contemporary Art this winter has paired the costume artist and sculptor Nick Cave with the animator, sculptor, and set designer William Kentridge. Both shows opened yesterday.
Cave is African-American and based in Chicago. Kentridge is South African — white and Jewish — and based in Johannesburg.
The two shows, or so it would seem, have nothing in common. Except that . . . hold on: What is that unfamiliar, anarchic emotion I perceive bubbling to the surface of both? Could it be . . . is it . . . euphoria? Exuberance? Joy?
Kentridge is an intellectual heavyweight. His five-screen installation, “The Refusal of Time,” shimmies and gyrates with ideas, from relativity and string theory to the history of African colonization and the very nature of art-making. (My review will appear in the Sunday Globe). It reveals a great artist working at the peak of his powers. His work, in somber black and white, chimes with our image of the artist himself, who appears in his films (and in public), dressed in his trademark black pants and white shirt.
Cave is, shall we say, a little different. He trained in modern dance, studied fiber textiles, and these days directs the fashion graduate program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work is deliriously colorful, dementedly dizzy, and, quite honestly, it stonewalls thought. I look at it, love it, and don’t have a single idea about it. (Unless “Wow!” qualifies as an idea.)
But none of this means Cave’s works are not great.
If you follow fashion or have kept half an eye on contemporary art over the past couple of decades, the Soundsuits for which Cave is best known don’t come entirely out of the blue.
Displayed at the ICA like frozen mannequins on a catwalk, these extraordinary creations — part costume, part sculpture — conjure up memories of the perverse outfits designed for the performance artist Leigh Bowery by his partner Nicola Bateman.
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