Being widely accepted as the most influential Danish artist, Per Kirkeby’s work has been exhibited in internationally renowned museums over the past decades. Particularly significant in this respect was the comprehensive retrospective exhibition organised by the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebaek, the Tate Modern in London and the Museum Kunst Palast in Düsseldorf (2008/09).
Characterized by insistent materiality and an energised openness, Per Kirkeby’s oeuvre reveals a deep interest in the physical properties and expressive potential of its medium along with a solid understanding of history and traditions.
As emphatic as his command of colour and gesture are the methodologies and frameworks devised by Kirkeby in order to bring into alignment his interest in landscape and geology.
Non-conformist in attitude, and working across painting, drawing and sculpture, painting still lies at the heart of his practice, proving malleable enough to condense a breadth of knowledge while establishing a dynamic enquiry into abstraction, spontaneity and control, instinct and intellect.
Kirkeby studied Geology in Copenhagen until 1964, and nature continued to be a central point of reference for all his work, for which he employed a wide range of media. From the outset, he was involved with performative art, worked with film, created sculptures in brick and bronze, made drawings, and worked as a writer and painter. It was his paintings that were to propel him to fame.
The ability to effortlessly overcome the distinction between the abstract and the figurative is the distinctive hallmark of his work. His paintings combine objectivity and sobriety with emotion and poetry. Kirkeby had the gift of expressing nature’s beauty and energy with a few sparse brushstrokes.
Kirkeby’s work was also the subject of major exhibitions in the Phillips Collection, Washington (2012), the Ny Carlsberg Glyphotek, Copenhagen (2012), the Museum Kuppersmühle, Duisburg (2012), the Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels (2012), the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2014), and is currently on show in the Kunsthalle Krems (2018/19).
PER KIRKEBY 1938-2018
MICHAEL WERNER KUNSTHANDEL
Through 13 April 2019