Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Serve the Servants

.Layout by yours truly from an article on Kurt Cobain, with photography by Charles Peterson, in VMAN magazine

During one of my frequent visits to Best Of recently I read that curator Michael Darling, who curated Target Practice last year at the Seattle Art Museum, has a new exhibition going up at SAM this May called Kurt.

Grunge music is arguably Seattle’s greatest cultural export of the past 20 years, and Kurt Cobain was that movement’s central figure. The historical impact of Kurt Cobain cannot be denied or overestimated. During and after his brief career—which came to a premature end in 1993—his life and work have reverberated across the globe. Kurt celebrates that influence, in particular the effect he had on the creative lives and thought processes of artists.

Kurt Cobain symbolized the ideals, aspirations and disappointments of the ’90s generation, and a diverse array of artists have incorporated his image into their work to comment on those issues. International in scope, the works on view in Kurt range from straightforward portraiture to pieces that show a more subtle assimilation of Cobain’s ethos and idealism in a broad range of media. With works from the early 1990s to the present, by artists such as Rodney Graham, Douglas Gordon and Elizabeth Peyton, among others, this exhibition will cause viewers to question why and how Kurt’s visage and his gestures came to mean so much to a generation.

I don't care how cynical you are – you will want to get down off your bar stool at the Comet and march your Pumas downtown for this. It will undoubtedly include some great work, and some not-bad-meaning-bad-but-bad-meaning-genius work.

Another thing I find interesting about it: museums are constantly trying to find new ways to pack people in, and SAM, for its very survival, needs downtown tourists to stop on by during the summer. What better way to attract people than to embrace that most stereotypically Seattle topic? A lot of great artists have addressed Kurt in their work, so it's win/win. A show of this nature has a chance to find that perfect middle ground between the commercial and critical needs of the museum.

Info at


Natasha said...

Yay I am so excited for May!! I must get that copy of VMAN too.

Valéry Lorenzo said...

I've seen Nirvana in 1994 and took this image :
Cobain was in a very bad "state" (like a zombie)... Probably the strangest show i've never seen...

Valéry Lorenzo said...

"Premature end in 1993" ? ( He died in April 1994)...
All Apologies !