Art fairs

Unseen works by Kurt Cobain to go on show at Seattle Art Fair

United Talent Agency's Artist Space will also exhibit pieces by the late singer's contemporaries


Kurt Cobain, who committed suicide in 1994, is best known as the founder and frontman of the zeitgeist-defining band Nirvana. But at the Seattle Art Fair (3-6 August), United Talent Agency (UTA)—better known for representing Hollywood screen stars—is making a case for Kurt Cobain, creative polymath and visual artist. A compulsive processer of raw emotion via paper, Cobain left behind plenty of ephemera but few formal art works. So for UTA Artist Space’s first fair outing, Joshua Roth, founder of the agency’s fine-art division, which represents Cobain's estate, has pulled together a booth that sketches a fuller picture of that early 90s cultural moment. Alongside the spectral, pistachio-coloured painting that served as the cover for the 1992 album Incesticide—“quintessentially Kurt”, Roth says—hang works by contemporaries such as Raymond Pettibon, Karen Kilimnik and Mike Kelley, plus more recent ones by Nate Lowman, Dan Colen, and Josephine Meckseper nurtured by the jaundiced humour and anti-capitalist spirit of the grunge movement born in the Pacific Northwest. After the fair’s vernissage on Wednesday, 2 August, several of these had found takers—but not the Cobain originals, which Roth is holding back in service of what he hopes will become a “360-degree representation” revealing new depths of the troubled icon. Surveying personal effects arrayed in a vitrine, Roth points to a meticulous diagram that collages together Polaroids of two guitar models, which Cobain had sent to the manufacturer Fender for a custom order. “I kind of like the idea of Kurt as a conceptual artist”, Roth offers—a commissioner in the mold of Jeff Koons or Alex Israel. “But that’s just my interpretation.”