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Chrysler Museum of Art adds Nick Cave Soundsuit to Collection
Nick Cave (American, b. 1959), Soundsuit, 2010. Mixed media, 107 x 42 x 42 inches. Museum purchase with funds donated by the Friends of African-American Art, and Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. by exchange. Photo courtesy of the Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.
NORFOLK, VA.- The Chrysler Museum of Art has added a whimsical toy-themed Soundsuit by Nick Cave to its collection. Cave was one of the contemporary artists featured in the Museum’s recent exhibition 30 Americans. Cave’s four mesmerizing soundsuits were among the public’s favorite works in the show, popular for their curious combination of movement and masquerade.

The Chrysler’s new sculpture is one of eight that Cave has fabricated from used toys. Its horns, jack-in-the-boxes, and noisemakers evoke sound, color, action, and childlike joy. The knit fabrics and hand-crocheted details on the mannequin form are typical of his hallmark attention to detail and skilled needlework.

“With their strong visual appeal, his soundsuits are created from a wealth of diverse materials, from twigs, sequins and buttons to toys, metal birds and flowers,” said Amy Brandt, Ph.D., the Chrysler’s McKinnon Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. “The artist scavenges his materials from many sources, including flea markets, fabric shops and antique stores. After collecting the items, he sets to work creating sculptures that manage to unite art, craft, and fashion.”

Cave made his first signature soundsuit in 1991 as the Rodney King riots raged in Los Angeles. His suits, he said, suggested a place of escape and safety, free from the discrimination that many minorities feel. His race- and gender-blurring creations meld visual and performing arts. The soundsuits tap into Cave’s training with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, integrating motion and sound with dazzling patterns, palettes, and pageantry.

The Chrysler was able to purchase this soundsuit thanks to a generous donation from the Museum’s Friends of African-American Art. The group’s members have championed the work of contemporary black artists for years, and served as advisors for 30 Americans. The acquisition demonstrates the Chrysler’s ongoing commitment not only to contemporary art, but to adding collection works that represent the African-American community. The new addition is on view in Remix Redux, which is on view through December 30.



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