Press Release

The ICA Opens Solo Exhibition of Renowned Artist Nick Cave on February 5

(Boston—Jan. 22, 2014) On Feb. 5, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston opens Nick Cave, an exhibition of new and recent work by the Chicago-based artist. Cave first gained widespread recognition for his Soundsuits—full-body costumes crafted from twigs, buttons, ceramic figurines, toys, and a wealth of other objects that the artist gathers in antique shops and flea markets. The exhibition features 12 Soundsuits—including never-before-seen work—as well as recent paintings and sculptures demonstrating new forms of expression in the artist’s practice. Organized by Jenelle Porter, Mannion Family Senior Curator, Nick Cave is on view at the ICA from Feb. 5 through May 4.

Cave made the first Soundsuits in 1991 in response to the now-infamous amateur video of the racial profiling and beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers. Looking for a way to cope with the trauma of this event, Cave devised his first Soundsuit as a protective “second skin.” Existing as both sculptures and, when occupied by the body, activated sound-generating costumes, Soundsuits reference dress and ritual attire from around the world, as well as the globalization of cultural identity. Despite the hours of highly skilled labor required to construct a Soundsuit, the compositions are spontaneous and exuberant—much like the dance for which they are often employed.

More recently, Cave has expanded his artistic expression to include paintings and sculptures that adapt the material and formal applications invented for the Soundsuits. His “paintings” are enormous, multi-panel reliefs composed of vine-like, welded metal adorned with hundreds of found objects. A new series the artist calls Rescues are assemblage sculptures in which the figure so familiar in Cave’s work is replaced by a stately dog surrounded by an elaborate den-like tangle of steel and ornament. These new forms retain a baroque aesthetic the artist describes as deliberately “gauche, lavish adornment.” Cave’s work continues to demonstrate his pioneering status among a growing number of artists exploring the intersection of fine art, craft, and performance.

About the Artist
Cave was born in Fulton, Missouri, in 1959. He lives and works in Chicago where he is a professor of fashion design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions including Nick Cave: Sojourn, Denver Art Museum; Nick Cave: The World is My Skin, Trapholt Museum, Denmark; and Freeport 006: Nick Cave, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem. In 2013, Cave created the monumental project HEARD•NY, a large-scale performance in Grand Central Terminal organized by Creative Time.

Media Preview
Media are invited to preview the exhibition on Tuesday, Feb. 4, at 9:30 am. RSVP to Colette Randall at 

Nick Cave is generously sponsored by

Additional support is provided by Steve Corkin and Dan Maddalena, and Curtis R. Kemeny.

Image: Nick Cave, Soundsuit, 2013, Mixed media including crochet blanket and sequins, 108 x 27 x 14 inches, Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo by James Prinz Photography.


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