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Title collage from Pamela Ivinski's “Obituary Birthday”  (© Pamela Ivinski)

Esopus 2 (Spring 2004)

Obituary Birthday: Kurt Cobain’s Art of Suicide

By Pamela A. Ivinski

Smells Like Teen Spirit’s’alternating soft verses and hard chorus perfectly embody the simultaneous hopelessness and exuberance that characterize our extended American adolescence: Cobain’s coincident self-hatred and self-confidence writ large for a generation.”

Pamela Ivinski reconsiders Kurt Cobain’s life, work and death on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of his suicide. By carefully examining his lyrics and journals and then relating them to his troubled family history, she offers an empathetic reading of Cobain’s work that both deepens our appreciation of his genius and establishes our complicity in his compulsion to “burn out rather than fade away.”

Pamela A. Ivinski is the senior research associate for the Mary Cassatt catalogue raisonné committee. Her articles have appeared in Print, publicsfear and Antiques and Fine Art. Ivinski, who once knew how to play a rudimentary version of Nirvana’s “Swap Meet” on the guitar, is co-author of Women Impressionists: Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Eva Gonzalès, Marie Bracquemond.