8:04 am - 04/03/2012

The Artwork of Kurt Cobain

Exactly 18 years after the suicide of Kurt Cobain (April 5, 1994), The Fix unveils five of his original artworks. A dark look into the mind of a tortured heroin addict, they're also ground zero in a battle between Cobain's widow and his publishing company.

Four never-before-seen paintings and one drawing by Kurt Cobain are the latest notes to a story that began 18 years ago this week, on April 5, 1994, the day the iconic rock star injected heroin for the last time and then blew his head off, leaving the famed Nirvana catalog to his widow Courtney Love and daughter, Frances Bean, and sparking a battle that's lasted almost 20 years. The Fix founder Maer Roshan unearthed this trove while reporting Courtney Comes Clean, the first e-book in the Quick Fix series.

The work is housed in Art Pack, a high-end storage facility in Los Angeles. Love has publicly declared her intention to auction off the artwork, as well as guitars and other of Cobain's memorabilia; the sale is expected to earn up to $100 million. However, ownership of the artwork is contested. According to sources, Cobain's publishing company, EOM, covered Love's unpaid storage fees for the cache and may try to block the auction.

What is clear is that this work comes from the troubled mind of Cobain at the height of his addiction. Painted in 1993, during the recording of Nirvana's last studio album, In Utero, they illustrate the young genius' fascination with decay, conception, nourishment, and waste. We've seen the figures in these paintings before: An image of a birthing sea horse was the cover to an early single; a figure resembling a puppet's skeleton was the cover for Incesticide, a B-side collection released after 1991's Nevermind, with liner notes by Cobain detailing a search through the London back alleys for one such doll. The same figure in another painting has flared green wings closely resembles In Utero's front cover. Cobain decorated the back with a fetus-heavy college he made in his living room, shot by longtime Nirvana photographer Charles Peterson—who took a subsequent snapshot of Courtney and Francis standing over the work in their pajamas.

A painting of seahorses, fetuses, and sperm resembles a late collaboration Keith Haring did with William Burroughs, who collaborated with Cobain on A Priest They Called Him, a guitar/spoken word album. Cobain even tried to get Burroughs to play the crucified old man in "Heart Shaped Box," a video directed by Anton Corbijn, but designed by Cobain. "He had drawings for the whole video," Corbijn told an interviewer. "I've never even seen a video director make that many detailed drawings for one video."

They are haunting, but I love them. smh @ the line "the day the iconic rock star injected heroin for the last time and then blew his head off" from the article...classless.

titsnteeth 3rd-Apr-2012 04:07 pm (UTC)
Sell them on Etsy maybe. I'm not baffled by the nature of these paintings, I just think the only reason people are giving them the time of day is that they were made by Kurt Cobain.
emmandemms 3rd-Apr-2012 04:17 pm (UTC)
Well of course, that's quite obvious.
My point is that they are not crap. The artist obviously has a developed personal style, follows a concept, I think he used some symbolism, these are also deeply personal and influenced by his life/emotions etc.
You are right that most people probably wouldn't give a fuck about these paintings if they weren't Kurt's, since they don't fit into average beauty standards, but those who work in this field/area could pay attention to them or definitely find potential.
That's all I wanted to say lol...
titsnteeth 3rd-Apr-2012 04:26 pm (UTC)
We'll have agree to disagree on this subject I think.
silly_izzy_me 3rd-Apr-2012 06:56 pm (UTC)
just because there are ~feelings~ behind it doesn't mean it's good.
silly_izzy_me 3rd-Apr-2012 08:23 pm (UTC)
Something that displays a kind of technical competence.
emmandemms 3rd-Apr-2012 09:26 pm (UTC)
lol nope
and define technical competence.
silly_izzy_me 3rd-Apr-2012 09:59 pm (UTC)
Lol yes. Anyone can take a shit and someone else can call it "art" or have feelings about it but that doesn't make it art. If someone can't sing a note but just loooooooves singing, does that make them a (vocal) musician? No, it just means that they like to sing. Not everyone can be an artist, sorry. Everyone can have fun drawing/painting etc., but that doesn't make him/her an artist.

Technical competence is exactly what it sounds like.
emmandemms 3rd-Apr-2012 10:25 pm (UTC)
Well in my opinion art is more strictly related to self-expression than technical skill. Developing a strong personal style and an original or innovative concept, thus presenting a meaningful message or theme, is often more artistically valuable than simply an aesthetically pleasing piece. And moreover technical competence can also be viewed subjectively or interpreted differently by different people. For example do you find any technical competence in the dada movement? Or abstract expressionism?
silly_izzy_me 3rd-Apr-2012 10:52 pm (UTC)
The idea of art as an emotional expression is very recent. I don't disagree with it in many cases, but just because someone says there is a "meaning" behind it doesn't mean it's art.

I think there is a wide range of technical competency. Pollack, for example, had a mastery over the movement of a brush; he understood which colors worked most effectively, and he put his entire body into a painting. Dada, though... my verdict is still out.

When it comes down to it, though, I'm defining "good" art. Marina Ambramovic even said that there is good art and bad art, haha.
emmandemms 3rd-Apr-2012 11:36 pm (UTC)
I agree with this. I mean throughout time art has dramatically developed and changed, from the times of Renaissance for example, when the rules of painting were very strict and limiting, conventional; to Expressionism and Cubism, which challenged the traditional concepts of beauty and technique. However in the end, I think the most famous artists that stood out throughout history, were mostly not the ones with greatest technical skills, but those with a unique and innovative view or perception, which brought something new to their field. There are plenty of people who can make traditionally good drawings, but there are few that are inspired, who actually have something to say, communicate a truthful message.

Haha, it was nice reading your opinion about this. I need to get familiar with Marina Abramovic though, don't really know much about her...

silly_izzy_me 3rd-Apr-2012 11:53 pm (UTC)
I agree that the most celebrated are the artists that were inspired rather than commissioned, haha. Although we obviously still revere Carvaggio, Leonardo, Rubens, Michaelangelo, etc. Plus, at least through the Impressionists (my favorites) they still studied/referenced Renaissance/baroque art and artists. We still study them, really. I believe that you have to know the rules to break them, you know? Besides, whatever the reason for painting doesn't change the breathtaking quality of traditional art.

Marina is considered the grandmother of performance art. She spoke at my school earlier in the semester and I was blown away.

Edited at 2012-04-03 11:58 pm (UTC)
silly_izzy_me is this you? be honest.3rd-Apr-2012 11:10 pm (UTC)
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