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Village artist: Kurt Cobain’s paintings

April 4th, 2004 · No Comments

It’s an appropriate time to think of Courtney Love: tomorrow marks the ten year anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death. An article in today’s Seattle Times Kurt Cobain: a life 10 years gone describes how he painted:

In 1992, at the height of his fame, he moved to Los Angeles, a time less is known about. In an apartment in the Fairfax district, he put down his guitar, picked up a paintbrush and contemplated a life without music. For several months he was ensconced in a mad world of creation. He painted using acrylics and oils, but at times he mixed his own blood, semen, cigarette ash and fecal matter into his medium. It was astonishing work. Most of it has been seen only by his closest friends.

Cobain died at 27. The music he created in the last year of his life was some of his best, which leaves critics and fans to forever wonder about what might have been. But none of the Cobain “what-ifs” are as fascinating as the one that imagines him quitting the spotlight of the music business and retreating to the world of art. It was an option he talked about frequently with his closest friends, and the one turn that might have saved his life.

Two of his creations are included in the on-line article.

Two questions I have: I wonder how artistic gifts are linked to each other. For example: are there painters who would be gifted musicians and musicians who would be gifted painters?

And of course, the big question is the What If? What if Kurt Cobain had pursued painting…

I will link tomorrow’s article, part II, below soon…

Update: Monday April 5, 2004 10 years gone: In life and death, Kurt Cobain is forever linked to Seattle: the social and cultural aspects of his life and death here.

When Love told him he could no longer do drugs in their house, he moved into cheap $18-a-night hotels on Aurora Avenue. He made one last attempt at rehab, but escaped after 48 hours. He spent the first few days of April on the run in Seattle, trying to avoid police, private detectives and friends who were searching for him. On April 5, in a greenhouse of his Lake Washington Boulevard house, he took his own life with a shotgun. In his one-page suicide note, he cited the pressures of fame, his lifelong stomach pain and the culpability he felt at not enjoying music anymore.


Most Nirvana fans know that Cobain was cremated and his ashes scattered in a number of spots, including Olympia. But few know that there is a sliver of Cobain left in Denny-Blaine — some of his remains were also sprinkled around the magnolias, willow trees and rhododendrons in the neighborhood. For an artist who mixed ashes into his paintings, this living landscape seems appropriate.


“He was truly very talented,” Novoselic said of Cobain back in 1998.

“If you look at his drawings, and the stuff that he did even as far back as high school, it was really good. He was an artist, really, in every sense of the word. In every village there’s a carpenter and a blacksmith. Well, Kurt, he was the village artist.”

Tags: music