Currents 109 will feature Soundsuits and other new work by Nick Cave

By | September 21, 2014

Photos by James Prinz Photography. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York © Nick Cave

Nick Cave

Nick Cave

The Saint Louis Art Museum will present a free exhibition presenting new works by artist Nick Cave, the Missouri native who has captivated audiences with artworks spanning sculpture, fashion, installation and performance. The exhibition, Currents 109: Nick Cave, opens October 31 and will include installations in Galleries 249 and 250 in the museum’s new East Building; a new media installation in Gallery 301; and an intervention in Gallery 102, a large gallery devoted to historical African art.

The exhibition will highlight Cave’s remarkable inventiveness, said Nichole Bridges, associate curator in charge, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas and co-curator of the exhibition with Tricia Paik, former associate curator of contemporary art.

Nick Cave is best known for his imaginative and theatrical Soundsuits—wearable sculptures composed of fibers as varied as raffia, hair, yarn, twigs, and items such as buttons, sequins and an array of found objects that Cave finds in flea markets and thrift stores. Named for the audible rustling and rattling these wildly mixed materials create when the sculptures are worn and performed, 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.

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 mixed-media African arts are admired as singular works of art in our galleries; yet they were also created for performance in multi-sensory spectacles complete with dance, music and a community of audience participants. Trained as a visual artist and dancer, Cave animates his Soundsuits through dancers who inhabit and perform them.

A Missouri native, Cave was born in Fulton in 1959. He received a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and a MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Cave lives and works in Chicago, where he is chair and professor of fashion design at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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).