Currents 109: Nick Cave
October 31, 2014–March 8, 2015
Galleries 102, 249, 250, and 301


Artist Nick Cave captivates audiences with his artworks that span the artistic realms of sculpture, fashion, installation, and performance. Through remarkable inventiveness, Cave's works merge fantasy, nostalgia, and whimsy with the artist's keen social consciousness.

Nick Cave is best known for his imaginative and theatrical Soundsuits—wearable sculptures composed of fibers as varied as raffia, hair, yarn, and twigs, and items such as buttons, sequins, and an array of found objects that Cave finds in flea markets and thrift stores. Soundsuits are named for the audible rustling and rattling that these wildly mixed materials create when the sculptures are worn and performed. Once referred to by the artist as "body armor," Soundsuits transcend preconceptions with their ambiguous identities. While accumulated matter of discarded toys and kitsch suggests a critique on consumerism, the kaleidoscopic and tactile qualities of Cave's meticulously crafted works convey a dazzling vibrancy that both implicates and invites.

For Currents 109, Cave will present new works, including Soundsuits, a video work, and his shimmering circular Tondos in four galleries across the Museum. In addition to the installations of Cave's works in the East Building, one work will appear in the Museum's galleries of historical African art. Cave's oeuvre resonates with performance and mixed-media arts from Africa and the African diaspora, such as for ceremonial masquerades and carnival festivities. Both Cave's Soundsuits and mixedmedia African arts are admired as singular works of art in our galleries; yet they were also created for performance in multisensory spectacles complete with dance, music, and a community of audience participants. Trained as a visual artist and dancer, Nick Cave animates his Soundsuits through dancers who inhabit and perform them.

A Missouri native, Cave was born in Fulton in 1959. He received his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Cave's recent solo exhibitions were at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2014), Denver Art Museum (2013), and Peabody Essex Museum, Salem (2013). He has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including those at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2011) and Kemper Museum, Kansas City (2010), among others. He has received various awards, including the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award (2008) and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2001). Cave lives and works in Chicago, where he is chair and professor of fashion design at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Currents 109: Nick Cave is co-curated by Nichole Bridges, associate curator in charge, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, and Tricia Paik, former associate curator of contemporary art.

Currents 109: Nick Cave is supported by a grant from the Trio Foundation of St. Louis