Viewing Pleasure: Nick Cave

The multidisciplinary artist sculpting a surreal vision

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Chicago-based artist Nick Cave sees himself as a messenger. “I’m a messenger first, artist second,” he says. “This is the job that I’ve been given.” A voice, if you will, for those who can’t (or won’t) be heard. And ultimately, a catalyst of change. His work, often composed of found objects, entices viewers with its beauty before confronting them with the harsh realities many, and specifically Black communities, are forced to live with.

Beaded top NICK CAVE Shirt GIORGIO ARMANI Pants BALENCIAGA Shoes talent’s own

For the name of his first large-scale survey of his career, the 63-year-old artist did what has become a hallmark of his practice: he took objects, in this instance the words “forevermore” and “other,” and fashioned something anew. Thus came Forothermore, an exhibit that first bowed earlier this year at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, which looks back at a body of work paying tribute to those lost to racism, systemic injustice, and more. Through his art, many times used as a coping mechanism, Cave hopes to enshrine their memories forever. “It was really this idea of service and using art as a vehicle for that,” Cave says. “This survey is really me offering this experience to the community at large and always thinking of ways in which we need to continue to reflect, continue to talk about, and find some sort of reconciliation in this process of trauma.”

Beaded top NICK CAVE Shirt GIORGIO ARMANI Pants BALENCIAGA Shoes talent’s own

Since 1992, Cave’s multidisciplinary work has sought to shine a light. Notably, that began with the brutal police beating of Rodney King with his first series, Soundsuits. The creations are Cave’s most

body of work, in which he creates wearable sculptures that use the body in figurative ways while obstructing the wearer’s identity. This second skin follows a use for fashion that he developed growing up: “I’ve always used embellishment, adornment, as a way of rebellion, of pushing back.” But over the past three decades, that work has continued, up through the killing of George Floyd. Forothermore brings the scope of this work into one show looking at the past, present, and future of the artist’s practice.

In a section of the survey, on exhibit at the Guggenheim in New York through April 2023, and more specifically the latest iterations of Soundsuits reimagined in 2020, Cave turns the spotlight he’s been previously shining on issues toward himself. The result proposes a new way forward in his practice, something that begins with his own imagination and creativity, and then incorporates his reactions to the swirling world around him as it occurs. “It’s about me and who I am,” he says of the process, exemplified by the new Soundsuits, which come shrouded in black veils as a result of the George Floyd killing that occurred during their creation. Of a new, in-progress body of work he teases that he is beginning to explore his own queerness in ways he previously hadn’t. “I’m thinking about standing even more so in my truth and everything I know I am.”

Nick Cave wears all clothing Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello

Forothermore is on view at the Guggenheim Museum November 18, 2022 through April 10, 2023.

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