NICK CAVE: FOROTHERMORE

Art is ... energy.

Spinner Forest, Nick Cave. Installation View.

Spinner Forest, Nick Cave. Installation View.

by Nadya Kelly (MA 2023)

The debut of Stephanie and Bill Sick Professor of Fashion, Body and Garment Nick Cave's first-ever career retrospective captures the essence of his artistry while also celebrating his wide body of work.

​​On view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago until October 2, Nick Cave: Forothermore spotlights the artist’s expansive career and highlights his ventures across multiple disciplines. The exhibition stands as a powerful ode to all people who have ever been “othered” by any form of discrimination and creates a spectacular vision of a more inclusive, just world. 

Above: Tondo, Nick Cave, 2022. Below: TM13, Nick Cave, 2015. Installation View.

Above: Tondo, Nick Cave, 2022. Below: TM13, Nick Cave, 2015. Installation View.

Forothermore completely transforms the fourth floor of MCA Chicago into an immersive art experience, taking patrons along the landmark works of Cave’s artistic journey, much of which is situated in front of patterned vinyl wallpaper designed by his partner Bob Faust. Curated by Naomi Beckwith, Forothermore organizes the artist’s expansive body of work by theme,  beginning with vivid metallic wind spinners embedded with guns, bullets, and teardrops from Cave’s 2017 installation Until at MASS MoCA. Dozens of Soundsuits are spread across the gallery, all of which have been constructed from various materials and objects including sequins, rugs, flowers, pony beads, and toys to create the elaborate sculptural costumes. A new Soundsuit is also on view for viewers to see, currently exclusive to the artist’s retrospective.

Blot, Nick Cave, 2012. Installation View.

Blot, Nick Cave, 2012. Installation View.

Cave’s first ever Soundsuit was created in 1992 with sticks he found at a park in reaction to the brutal assault of Rodney King at the hands of the Los Angeles police. He has since made hundreds of other Soundsuits that utilize found materials. Throughout the course of his career, which has taken him across multiple mediums such as performance, installation, and video, his dedication to examining and exploring themes of identity, self-expression, injustice, and beauty continues to deeply resonate both within and beyond the art world.

Soundsuits, Nick Cave. Mixed Media. Installation View.

Soundsuits, Nick Cave. Mixed Media. Installation View.

Rescue, Nick Cave, 2021. Wallwork, Nick Cave in collaboration with Bob Faust, 2022. Installation View.

Rescue, Nick Cave, 2021. Wallwork, Nick Cave in collaboration with Bob Faust, 2022. Installation View.

Soundsuits and Beaded Cliff Wall, Nick Cave. Installation View.

Soundsuits and Beaded Cliff Wall, Nick Cave. Installation View.

Hustle Coat, Nick Cave, 2021. Wallwork, Nick Cave in collaboration with Bob Faust, 2022. Installation View.

Hustle Coat, Nick Cave, 2021. Wallwork, Nick Cave in collaboration with Bob Faust, 2022. Installation View.

Hy-Dyve, Nick Cave, 2016. Installation View.

Hy-Dyve, Nick Cave, 2016. Installation View.

Further showcasing Cave’s use of mixed media in his artwork, the survey includes two wall-size installations Beaded Cliff Wall, made from pony beads threaded with shoelaces, and Wall Relief, which displays four panels of mixed media including ceramic birds, metal flowers, afghans, strung beads, crystals, and an antique gramophone. Hy-Dyve, Cave’s 14-channel, room-sized video installation, surrounds visitors with captivating patterns, blinking eyes, and running water.

A figure stands in front of a bank of screens in a dark room

Wall Relief, Nick Cave, 2013. Mixed media, 4 panels, each: 97 x 74 x 21 in. Installation View.

Wall Relief, Nick Cave, 2013. Mixed media, 4 panels, each: 97 x 74 x 21 in. Installation View.

As a self-proclaimed messenger [10], Cave’s ability to effectively convey his perspective and worldview through his material is made clear in his landmark retrospective. Throughout his career, Cave has been celebrated for broadening the traditional definitions of beauty. Forothermore makes apparent how beauty can function as an act of resilience and strength.

Check out Nick Cave's work at the SAIC Virtual Art Auction from November 1-14 on Artsy.net. Browse and buy work from Nick and more than 90 established contemporary artists to support student scholarships.