Just 24, Frances Bean Cobain Is Having a Stellar Moment With Her Second Gallery Show

Kurt Cobain's daughter sold all her work within a week.

Frances Bean Cobain. Courtesy of Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Marc Jacobs.
Frances Bean Cobain. Courtesy of Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Marc Jacobs.

Seven years after making her art world debut at Los Angeles’s La Luz de Jesus Gallery, Frances Bean Cobain returns with a new exhibition at Gallery 30 South in Pasadena. In what is only her second gallery show, the 24-year-old artist managed to sell all of her work within a week. The exhibition, titled “Ghosts for Sale,” is a two-person show with Lindsey Way, an illustrator and member of the band Mindless Self Indulgence.

Cobain’s musical pedigree is obvious—her father was the late Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain, and her mother is Courtney Love of Hole—but it’s her talent with pen and paper that is winning the young artist fans of her own. “We like to do art together. We like to play guitar together,” Love told Good Morning America earlier this month, speaking of her daughter’s artistic ambitions.

Of course, Kurt Cobain was also a gifted visual artist. A touring exhibition of his artwork, which included painting, drawing, photography, and collage, was announced last year. According to the artnet Price Database, he set a new auction record just last month when an untitled painting sold for $64,000 on a $4,000 high estimate at Julien’s Auctions.

Frances Bean Cobain, It’s a Good Day For Penance and Pity. Courtesy of Gallery 30 South.

Frances Bean Cobain, It’s a Good Day For Penance and Pity (2017). Courtesy of Gallery 30 South.

The younger Cobain made her gallery debut at just 17, exhibiting under the name Fiddle Tim. At the time, Cobain was working at La Luz de Jesus when gallery director Matt Kennedy, who is also the co-owner of Gallery 30 South, spotted her drawing in a notebook. “I thought it [her work] was really great, and we talked her into a group show,” he told artnet News. “She didn’t want to show under her real name, but somebody figured out who she was.” A reporter from the Huffington Post found out about Cobain’s pseudonym, and revealed her true identity in a short blog post.

Cobain, who read the unexpected article on her way to the opening, was somewhat overwhelmed by the experience. “Stepping back out under her own name, she felt she could better take control of the narrative,” explained Kennedy of her return exhibition.

Unlike her debut, which saw Cobain pulling existing ballpoint pen drawings from the pages of her notebook to hang on the gallery wall, the artist created the new body of work with the exhibition specifically in mind. The result is a more colorful, dreamy selection of paintings, the dark, nightmarish quality of her earlier figures somewhat softened.

“I think what’s really great about this body of work that Frances has put together is that there’s a real confidence in the line and the mixed media,” said Kennedy. “I love the bold use of color. She seems to have an inherent capacity for composition and color theory.”

The show was also an opportunity for Cobain to work closely with her long-time mentor, Lindsey Way. Cobain met Way and her husband, The Umbrella Academy author and My Chemical Romance leader singer Gerard Way, at Dark Horse Comics, where she started interning at just 15.

“I was very excited to see how her work had developed,” added Kennedy, citing an increased maturity in her new paintings. “France’s ability to use of color is in line with that of very established artists who know the rules and then break them in a way that makes sense and pushes the work forward. You never really see that in young artists.”

Below, see more works from Cobain’s “Ghosts for Sale.”

Frances Bean Cobain, <em>I’m Not Scared of 40 Volume Bleach</em> (2017). Courtesy of Gallery 30 South.

Frances Bean Cobain, I’m Not Scared of 40 Volume Bleach (2017). Courtesy of Gallery 30 South.

Frances Bean Cobain, Limeade Extract . Courtesy of Gallery 30 South.

Frances Bean Cobain, Limeade Extract (2017). Courtesy of Gallery 30 South.

Frances Bean Cobain, Cursed to Be Eternally Boned. Courtesy of Gallery 30 South.

Frances Bean Cobain, Cursed to Be Eternally Boned (2017). Courtesy of Gallery 30 South.

Frances Bean Cobain, <em>Shootin’ with Rasputin</em> (2017). Courtesy of Gallery 30 South.

Frances Bean Cobain, Shootin’ with Rasputin (2017). Courtesy of Gallery 30 South.

“Lindsay Way & Frances Bean Cobain: Ghosts for Sale” is on view at Gallery 30 South, 30 South Wilson Avenue, Pasadena, California, June 7–30, 2017.


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