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Rare Kurt Cobain Photo Exhibition Opens Tonight at New York Gallery

Kurt Cobain
Frank Micelotta, Getty Images

This is what decay looks like: leopard stripes, goofball shades, burned-down cigarette and a stoned-slack jaw. Kurt Cobain was five months away from taking his life when he was shot by budding photog Jesse Frohman for a series of portraits — opening tonight (April 5) at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York and running through April 23. 

“Eventually, at least three hours later than originally scheduled, Kurt came down,” Frohman told Rolling Stone, recalling the November 1993 meeting. “He was very quiet and he was wearing these white Jackie O glasses with his chin down to his chest, and he asked for a bucket. And I said, ‘Sure, we have a bucket. What do you need a bucket for?’ And he said, ”Cause I think I’m gonna puke.’ And that was my introduction to Kurt.”

Frohman shot the portraits for the New York Observer to cover Nirvana‘s show at the Roseland Ballroom. Hoping to take advantage of the band’s being in NYC, the photog planned on bringing Kurt and the guys to a park for  some outdoor shooting—though, of course, a severely stoned icon forced Frohman to improvise.

“Kurt was an anti-hero and he didn’t like to be pretty, and he didn’t want to be glorified, and he didn’t want to be treated like the way celebrities want to be treated, and it’s what endeared him to a lot of fans,” Frohman said. “At the same time, it was challenging to shoot him because he would pay attention, then he wouldn’t pay attention, you know? It was like shooting a dog.”

Today isn’t just opening day for the exhibition, it also happens to be the 18-year anniversary of Cobain’s suicide. His body was discovered three days later — April 8, 1994 — in a greenhouse above the garage of his Seattle-area home.

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