Nick Cave AO (b. 1957), singer, songwriter and author, was born in Warracknabeal, Victoria, and educated at Caulfield Grammar School, where he formed his first band, The Boys Next Door. In 1980, when Cave had spent two years at art school, the band changed its name to The Birthday Party and moved to London, where it significantly influenced other punk bands. With several talented recruits, members of the Birthday Party formed The Bad Seeds, whose first album was released in 1984. Cave has participated in a number of fruitful musical collaborations and has been involved in several films, including the arthouse sensation Wings of Desire (1987). He co-wrote, acted in and wrote the soundtrack for the critically acclaimed Ghosts . . . of the Civil Dead (1988) and scripted the grim Australian drama The Proposition (2006); he appeared in I’m Your Man (2005-2006), and co-wrote and starred in a wry documentary drama about himself, 20 000 Days on Earth (2014). A long-term resident of the UK, he has written several novels while performing all over Europe and continuing to issue albums regularly. His 2013 release with The Bad Seeds, Push the Sky Away (2013), was the band’s first Australian number-one album.
Arkley’s painting of Cave was one of the last he completed before his death at the peak of his career.
Commissioned with funds provided by L Gordon Darling AC CMG 1999
© The Estate of Howard Arkley. Licensed by Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art
Accession number: 1999.16
More about the artist and subject
Permanent collection catalogue
On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.