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Philbrook Acquires Major Work by Renowned Artist Nick Cave 

Soundsuit debuts alongside other notable Contemporary and American art purchases 

Nick Cave (American, b. 1959). Soundsuit, 2021. Vintage ceramic birds, wire, beads, fabric, metal, and mannequin, 98 1/2 x 46 x 42″. Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Museum purchase, Taber Art Fund, 2022.3 a-f. © Nick Cave 

TULSA, OK., September 8, 2023— Philbrook is pleased to announce a spectacular new acquisition by groundbreaking Black American artist Nick Cave. Cave’s Soundsuit, 2021, is a signature work by an artist world-renowned for sculptural forms based on the scale of his body. His Soundsuit series was initially created in response to the 1991 police beating of Rodney King. The colorful, mixed-media sculpture Philbrook acquired features a mannequin body wrapped in crocheted flowers and a head enveloped in an orb made of beads, wires, and ceramic birds. Soundsuit camouflages and protects, concealing race, gender, and class.  

“Nick Cave’s Soundsuit, standing at more than eight feet tall, is a signature work by a leading Black artist of our time,” says Dr. Kate Green, Chief Curator & Nancy E. Meinig Curator of Contemporary Art. “It signals Philbrook’s commitment to growing its Contemporary collection with works that appeal widely and provide connections across the collection and to the garden, while nurturing diversity of artists and ideas. Cave’s work, which will be unveiled to the public for the first time in the special fall exhibition Trade & Transformation (Opening October 18), is joined by other major purchases—by Raúl de Nieves, George Marinko, and Yinka Shonibare—that advance these same goals.” 

Other recent acquisitions are on view at Philbrook right now. The special exhibition New Realms includes Raúl de Nieves’ The Leap Into The Sun, 2021, a monumental wall relief that features a swirl of mementos and materials–vintage postcards, photographs, plastic toys; wood, paint, yarn—harkening to the artist’s childhood in Mexico and the contemporary moment, and the multiple strands of identity. The exhibition also includes Still Life (1942), an early example of American surrealism by the artist George Marinko. The work is a playful example of the artist’s experiments with the genre, featuring an urn of brightly colored flowers that in fact turn out to be composed not of flora but of everyday items (gears, bottle caps, propeller, candles, paintbrush). 

“Philbrook is thrilled to continue to grow the collection with stunning and important works that will nourish our community’s spirit today and for generations to come,” says Rachel Keith, Deputy Director, Audience Engagement & Curatorial Affairs. “Alongside our board and supporters, our team is excited to share Nick Cave’s beautiful and meaningful work with our audiences and to offer new pathways for connection with our visitors.”   

Another important new acquisition is already on view in, the Villa’s galleries: an iconic work by Yinka Shonibare, the artist world-renowned for exploring contemporary African identity and the legacy of European colonialism through figural sculptures. Birdcage Kid (Girl), 2022, features a young woman bearing a globe for her head and carrying an armful of birdcages, the door opening to release a small flock of vibrantly plumed replicas of critically endangered birds. She stands steady, despite taking on the weight of the world. Already a smash hit with visitors, the work opens the door to conversations about crucial issues of our time, including biodiversity, climate change, and power 


Press Contact: 

Jeff Martin, Director of Communications
918.697.9042 (m)
918.748.5300 (o)

About Philbrook Museum of Art

Philbrook Museum of Art is committed to being Tulsa’s most welcoming and engaging cultural institution, providing a unique trifecta of experiences: a historic home, world class art museum, 25 acres of gardens. 

Philbrook Museum of Art opened on October 25, 1939. The addition of a 70,000 square foot wing in 1990 turned the historic home into a modern museum complex. A major garden renovation in 2004 cemented the Museum’s reputation as “the most beautiful place in Oklahoma.” 

Through bold action and strategic investment, we create a space for new ideas, diverse stories and perspectives, and social connection. The Philbrook Collection features more than 16,000 objects with a focus on American, Native American, and European art. Serving over 160,000 visitors annually, Philbrook shines a light on Tulsa’s storied and complex past while building a diverse and creative vision of the city’s future.