• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1997

    Post War And Contemporary Art Evening Sale

    13 May 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 5

    Elizabeth Peyton (b. 1965)

    Kurt Cobain

    Price Realised  

    Elizabeth Peyton (b. 1965)
    Kurt Cobain
    signed, titled and dated 'KURT Elizabeth Peyton 1995' (on the overlap)
    acrylic on canvas
    16 x 12 in. (40.6 x 30.5 cm.)
    Painted in 1995.


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Kurt Cobain is part of a celebrated series of portraits Elizabeth Peyton painted of the cult figure in 1995. Peyton collected images of Kurt from newspapers, magazines, record covers and music video stills and used them as a starting point for her work. Celebrity and adoration have always been fundamental themes in Peyton's work. Only a year after Cobain's tragic suicide, Peyton produced the present work, alongside the series that was included in her first solo exhibition at Gavin Brown Enterprises. Within the intimate storefront space of the gallery, these small expressions of devotion radiated intensity. This exhibition launched Peyton's career and established the significance of her work in portraiture. Other paintings of the Nirvana lead singer included Zok's Kurt, Alizerean Kurt, Blur Kurt, Kurt Sleeping, Kurt Smoking, and Blue Kurt. Each uniquely describe the complex emotions Peyton felt towards Cobain. The present work is uniquely composed of a translucent palette of watery blues and light yellows. Cobain's eyes make direct contact with the viewer, seducing us with his innocence. Unlike the nihilistic, grungy demeanor he often displayed, Peyton here portrayed him as compassionate but distant. The work resists feelings of irony -- her craft is genuine. Created during a period when other artists rejected the painted portrait, Peyton's work freshly rejuvenates the style. She employs the paint in a sulky, drippy manner, not afraid to expose her painterly brush strokes. Her vibrant, often primary colors expose the underlying personal sentiments that exist between the artist and her subjects.

    Provenance

    Gavin Brown Enterprises, New York
    Jack Pierson Collection, New York
    Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York