1938 Copenhagen – 2018 Copenhagen
Due to his use of painting, printed graphics, lyrics, and film, Per Kirkeby was considered one of the most versatile Danish contemporary artists. As one would expect from someone who holds a doctorate in geology, natural structures and forms are clearly visible in his finished works and partially shape his large-scale creations. Regardless of whether they are paintings or sculptures, they are not driven by impulse or emotion, but are subject to the controlled, reflexive work process of a scientist. Kirkeby’s methodology and style changed many times over the years.
As much as the means of expression of pop art shaped his paintings until the 1970s, later he created gestural and expressive compositions where the dominant theme is nature. What is objective turns increasingly into what is abstract. In the 1970s and 1980s he gave lectures at the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe. In 1976 and 1980, his works were presented at the Venice Biennale and documenta 7. At the beginning of the 1980s, Kirkeby turned away from paintings to focus intensely on bronze sculptures. In the 1990s, Kirkeby gave lectures at Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main. In 2008, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art organised his first retrospective, followed in 2009 by the Tate Modern in London and the Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf.