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Nick Cave

American, Born 1959

MASS 2000
Master printer - Maryanne Ellison Simmons
Collagraph from collagraph plate comprised of twelve hand-stitched shirts
300gsm Somerset Satin, white
plate 40"h x 60"w, print front/back 52"h x 82"w
Triptych: Installation of Framed Front Print/Unframed Plate/Framed Back Print 248"w x 58"h
Ed. 19
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Island Press hosted Chicago artist Nick Cave in January 1999. Cave is a multi-media artist known for his fashion design, fiber work, performances (he also had formal training as a dancer), sculpture, collages, and assemblages of objects that he collects. His art looks at political and social issues including AIDS, gender, race, and sexuality. The strength of Cave’s work lies in the dramatic manner in which he combines his media while commenting upon the human condition. His artistic ability, as well as his desire to reach beyond conventional limits, made him a perfect candidate to work at Island Press.

The prints that Cave produced in St. Louis resonated with the eloquent language of his three-dimensional objects. Rather than using a traditional print sub-strait such as a metal plate, Cave printed on used shirts that had been stitched together to form the "plate" from which the print was made. Thus, the nineteen plates used for MASS were composed of found objects that had been assembled by Cave in a quilt-like format. Each of the plates was then rhoplexed, inked and printed front and back. When assembled, each piece consists of the plate and its two prints and measures over eighteen feet in length. Cave would use a similar method in the triptych Virus. In this work, the image is a bacterium associated with AIDS. The outside panels are collagraphs also made with actual shirts, while the central panel is an abstract collagraph with a photolithograph printed on top. Due to Cave’s innovations, both MASS and Virus were quickly considered among the most creatively produced prints that had been done in the shop. In St. Louis, Cave was able to combine his interest in fibers, found objects, assemblage, and sculpture with a social issue (AIDS) to produce art that had an Island Press "look." In other words, his was an art that tested the limits of experimental printmaking.

Marilyn Kushner
Curator and Chair of the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs
Brooklyn Museum of Art