2009 Nick Cave Born: Fulton, Missouri 1959 mixed media 96 x 26 x 20 in. (243.8 x 66.0 x 50.8 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of the James Renwick Alliance and museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment © 2009, Nick Cave. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo by James Prinz Photography 2012.34A-B Not currently on view
Nick Cave's training as a fiber artist and dancer inspired his ongoing series of Soundsuits. Named for the rustling Cave heard as he moved around in his first suit, these wearable sculptures combine performance and textile art. Cave conceived of the Soundsuits in the aftermath of the 1991 Rodney King beating, and initially thought of them as protective shields capable of masking a person's identity. These extravagantly ornamented suits also explore the tension between "low craft" and "high art." They are often made from found objects and incorporate a wide range of cultural references, from American craft techniques to African dance rituals.