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Nick Cave

Contemporary Art

Since the early 1990s, Nick Cave has been fabricating inventive sculptures out of scavenged materials, which he often overlays with beadwork, stitching, and other embellishments. One of the first, crafted from twigs, was made to be worn and created a rustling sound, which led to the eventual name of such works: Soundsuits. Cave’s sculptures draw from a variety of sources, including both African and Caribbean traditions of masquerade.

In performance, Cave’s work invokes moments of whimsical transcendence while also reflecting a grounded and nuanced understanding of the racialized nature of American society. Cave designed his first Soundsuit in response to the brutal police beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles in 1991. Overcoming the distinctions between “fine art” and “craft,” as well as “performance” and “street” art, Cave’s Soundsuits also serve as a sort of armor, protecting against the violence of racial stereotypes and giving their wearers an outsize, fanciful, and transcendent presence.
MEDIUM Mixed media
DATES 2008
DIMENSIONS Exhibited ACTUAL dims: 112 x 43 x 35 in. (284.5 x 109.2 x 88.9 cm) figure: estimated dims: 82 × 24 × 24 in. (208.3 × 61 × 61 cm) armature: estimated dims, fully assembled: 60 × 48 × 48 in. (152.4 × 121.9 × 121.9 cm) Mannequin height: 75 in. (190.5 cm) minimum height of cage with top 2 levels of branches removed: 52 in. (132.1 cm) minimum clear  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Contemporary Art
CREDIT LINE Mary Smith Dorward Fund
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION a) mannequin; b) headdress
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Nick Cave (American, born 1959). Soundsuit, 2008. Mixed media, Exhibited ACTUAL dims: 112 x 43 x 35 in. (284.5 x 109.2 x 88.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Mary Smith Dorward Fund, 2009.44a-b. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Image courtesy of Robilant Voena, CUR.2009.44a-b_James_Prinz_Shainman_Gallery_photo_NC08.jpg)
IMAGE overall, CUR.2009.44a-b_James_Prinz_Shainman_Gallery_photo_NC08.jpg. Image courtesy of Robilant Voena, 2016
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