Nick Cave – Treasures From Tchotkes

I caught the recent Nick Cave exhibit (Nick Cave: Feat.) at the Akron Art Museum on its next to last day. Much to my surprise, I was won over by his sparkly, glittery, tawdry junk shop filled pieces. It’s too bad I missed the community performances held as part of the exhibit.

The work on display seemed to fall into three categories: stationary 3D wall and floor pieces, sound suits which Cave wears for performances, and whole room installations. The work was created from 2010 to 2019. A video made for the exhibit showed Cave shopping for tchotkes at thrift stores, the construction of some pieces by a small army of workers, and clips of performances.

This detail of a large wall sculpture highlights the ceramic birds Cave likes to use. The base is a crocheted afghan, over which several layers of stuff are mounted. Cave said he uses bird statues because they were viewed as art in his childhood home.
Detail of metal tin lids from a sound suit.
Sound suit covered with thousands of buttons. Workers do the sewing.
Another sound suit that features bowls made with plastic beads and large safety pins. Such bowls were popular with crafters a while ago.
Room installation of painted bamboo curtains. I found the images showed up more clearly in photos than in person.

Here’s what Cave said about his work:

This work speaks to craft but exceeds the notion of craft. The materials allow people to connect personally, because we can all identify with objects that have surrounded us in our homes at some point. In that way, the work can be nostalgic, and there’s that moment when you realize you’re in a shared language with the people around you. The found objects bring out all kinds of personal history. They also raise the question of how we honor domestic crafts like crochet and needlepoint, which are becoming less and less a part of our day-to-day lives. I like celebrating these practices and things that have traditionally brought beauty into our lives.


Filed under Commentary, Exhibits, Inspiration

10 responses to “Nick Cave – Treasures From Tchotkes

  1. Interesting! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Ann Scott

    Wow. Thanks for sharing this. Makes me think of all the things I (maybe) should have kept over the years!

  3. I have seen some of his work in Las Vegas, but there it was individual pieces in a glass case in a mall. It would be fun to see a lot of his pieces all together like that!

    • It was fun to watch videos of dancers wearing his raffia creations and moving so you couldn’t see their bodies.

      On Sat, Jun 15, 2019, 5:44 PM The Snarky Quilter wrote:


  4. I loved the exhibit and was grateful to Nick Cave for explaining that using things that he remembered from his childhood as a token of admiration to the older generation. The items we were allowed to look at but not touch have become his muse for his art. These pieces brought a smile to my face and my heart.

  5. Dear me. These are intense! But I can see the point about the connections viewers make with the mundane bits and bobs, transformed into something unexpected.

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