Exhibition Press Release:

Seattle Art Museum
May 13–September 6, 2010

Curated by Michael Darling

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 1994—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.

–Michael Darling, Former Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art


Greenhouse, 2006
Oil on canvas, 44 x 56 in.


Untitled (forensic scene), 2004
Oil on canvas, 32 x 48 in.

Untitled (greenhouse), 2006
Photocopy, synthemic polymer varnish, and graphite on canvas, 9 x 12 in.


Untitled (greenhouse diagram), 2007
Graphite and cut-and-pasted paper with graphite on canvas, 9 x 12 in.

Jordan Kantor's painting practice is fueled by breakdowns or gaps in perception, often caused by the intermediary presence of the camera. In this lengthy series, he has relied on the spotty photographic record of the scene of Kurt Cobain's suicide to piece together impressions of the place and event, drawn by the intense public interest in it as well as the compelling privacy and lack of access that discouraged further knowledge. –Michael Darling


Artist List (partial): Sam Durant, Douglas Gordon, Rodney Graham, Daniel Guzman, Richard Hawkins, Jordan Kantor, Elizabeth Peyton, Gillian Wearing.


Exhibition Link