Nick Cave
Born in Missouri in 1959, Nick Cave studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan and trained with the renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Presently on the faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Cave makes clothing, fiber-based sculptures, collages, and installations. Best known are his weird, joyful, and otherworldly “Soundsuits,” three of which are featured in this display. Created as costumes for dancers to wear in performances, Cave’s suits enjoy parallel lives as fantastic figurative sculptures and thus collapse boundaries between life and art. (A video installed nearby shows Cave’s suits during performance.) In this way, his work alludes to African ceremonial masks and costumes, which similarly transform their wearers’ identities by facilitating movement into other realms of being. Often incorporating found textiles and objects, Cave’s elaborate, even excessive, suits—unlike Henri’s paintings of female dancers—typically erase explicit signs of the figure’s sex, although the elongated, rather phallic forms of the three Soundsuits here connote masculine presences. Moreover, they playfully blur distinctions between natural and artificial materials. Defying expectations and breaking boundaries, Cave’s work, in the artist’s own words, “pose[s] fundamental questions about the human condition in the social and political realm.”
James Prinz
Nick Cave, 2010
Courtesy of the artist and
Jack Shainman Gallery, New York