Kirkeby, Per

Per Kirkeby (1939 – 2018)


Per Kirkeby is a Danish artist whose interest in geology and natural environments has exerted great influence over his paintings and brick sculptures. “A structure-less painting is, to me, a painting that does not matter. Structure mirrors your degree of responsibility toward the work”, he said of making art. “You can’t just let it float around in pretty colours. It needs a kind of core. But this is an inner structure”. Born on September 1, 1938 in Copenhagen, Denmark, Kirkeby studied geology at the University of Copenhagen, but continued to pursue his art practice, producing paintings, sculptures, film and prints. During the 1960s, Kirkeby’s performance art led him to collaborations with Conceptual artists, including Joseph Beuys, Nam June Paik, and Charlotte Moorman. From 1978-88 he held a chair for painting at Kunstakademie Karlsruhe, from 1979-2000 at Städelschule Frankfurt/Main.
Kirkeby lived and worked between Copenhagen, Læsø, and Arnasco. The artist’s works are held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denkmark, among others.
He died on May 9th 2018 at the age of 79.


Exhibitions (Selection)

“Per Kirkeby”, Charlottenborg Foundation, Denmark
“Per Kirkeby. Bau und Bild”, Stiftung Insel Hombroich, Germany

  • “Per Kirkeby. Machines for Light ans Shadow”, Museum Jorn, Silkeborg, Denmark
  • “Per Kirkeby. Matter is Light”, Chateau La Coste, Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade, France
  • “Per Kirkeby”, Kunsthalle Krems, Stein, Germany
  • “Per Kirkeby. Aus der Natur”, Museum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte Schloss Gottorf, Germany

  • “Per Kirkeby – Torso-Ast”, Franz Marc Museum, Kochel am See, Germany “Per Kirkeby. Brick Sculpture (1966 – 2016)”, Beaux-Arts de Paris, France

  • “Per Kirkeby. The Blue of the Avant-Garde”, Kunstforeningen GL STRAND, Kopenhagen, Denmark
  • “Per Kirkeby. Werke aus dem Louisiana Museum of Modern Art”, Paula Modersohn-Becker Museum, Bremen, Germany
  • “Per Kirkeby. Il luoghi dell ́anima del grande maestro scandinavo”, Museo d ́arte, Mendrisio, Switzerland

  • “Per Kirkeby. Komplet”, Museum Jorn, Silkeborg, Denmark “Per Kirkeby”, Herning Center of the Arts, Herning, Denmark
  • “Per Kirkeby. Echo of the Light”, The Gallery of Windsor, Ontario, Canada 2014 “Per Kirkeby”, Kunsthalle Gießen, Gießen, Germany
  • “Per Kirkeby. Bronze, Kaltnadel, Holz”, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany

  • “Strukturen der Natur: Franz Marc und Per Kirkeby – Druckgraphik”, Franz Marc Museum, Kochel am See, Germany
  • “Per Kirkeby: Paintings and Sculpture 1964-2010”, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine, USA

  • “Per Kirkeby and The ‘Forbidden Paintings’ of Kurt Schwitters”, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium
  • “Per Kirkeby. Maler – Forscher – Bildhauer – Poet”, Museum Küppersmühle, Duisburg, Germany
  • “Per Kirkeby. Epiphany”, Ny Carlsberg Glyptothek, Kopenhagen, Denmark
    Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf


    Louisiana Museum, Humblebaek


    Herbert-Boeckl-Prize for his life work Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humblebaek. Museum Ludwig, Cologne


    Tate Gallery, London; Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich


    Coutts Contemporary Art Foundation. Henrik Steffens Award by the Alfred Toepfer Foundation, Hamburg


    Haus der Kunst, Munich. Musée des Beaux Arts, Nantes


    Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Nord LB Art Prize


    Thorvalsden Medal. Ludwig Museum, Cologne


    DAAD scholarship for Berlin. Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven


    Danish Pavilion at Venice Biennale. Participation in A new Spirit in Painting,


    Professorship at the Cologne Academy of Arts


    Kunsthalle Bern Museum


    Folkwang, Essen



    Literature (Selection)


    Per Kirkeby—Paintings 1957-77. Catalogue Raisonné, ed. by Ane Hejlskov Larson, Cologne, 2003


    Per Kirkeby—Catalogue Raisonné of Etchings, ed. by Troels Andersen, Bern Berlin, 2002


    Per Kirkeby—Louisiana 2008, ed. by Michael Juul Holm, Louisiana, 2008


    Per Kirkeby—Die Welt ist Material, ed. by Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf, 2010