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Nick Cave, 1999

Howard Arkley

synthetic polymer paint on canvas (support: 175.2 cm x 135.2 cm depth 43 cm)

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 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 side projects since including the band Grinderman. He has also been involved in several films as an actor, screenwriter and composer, including the arthouse sensation Wings of Desire (1987) and Ghosts ... of the Civil Dead (1988). He scripted the grim Australian drama The Proposition (2006); 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, Cave has written novels and poetry while continuing to perform and compose regularly. His 2013 release with The Bad Seeds, Push the Sky Away, was the band’s first Australian number-one album.

One of the first works commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, Howard Arkley’s painting of Cave was one of the last the artist completed before his death at the peak of his career.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
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

Currently on display: Gallery Two (Contemporary Gallery)

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Artist and subject

Howard Arkley (age 48 in 1999)

Nick Cave AO (age 42 in 1999)

Subject professions

Performing arts

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