Per Kirkeby



Per Kirkeby, born in 1938 in Copenhagen, is considered internationally to be the most significant Scandinavian artist of the present. The versatility of his oeuvre since the early 1960s is staggering: Kirkeby paints, draws and makes prints, he is likewise a sculptor, an architect, a filmmaker and a poet.

His career began in 1957 with a degree in geology in Copenhagen, which he completed with a doctorate in 1964. In 1958 he took part in an expedition to Greenland where he first documented impressions of the landscape in pictorial form. He was intrigued by rock structures and by the structural composition of many other materials, which he investigated through drawing, and from the 1970s, – as components of a complex idea of the landscape – increasingly through his painting.

Colour compositions emerge from these investigations with their own specific visual language of layering and painterly perception. There are associations to nature that sometimes become legible – in elements of landscape, architectural features, hints of flora and fauna – but then become turbidly secretive, darkened in earth-colours or in vegetal patterns. The latter are reminiscent of foliage, grass or lichens, and thus more responsive to perception – often in a mysterious vibration consisting of both structure and a painterly-poetic aura. Kirkeby expresses it far more soberly: “My relationship to the landscape is of a professional kind, but I do see myself as a painter concerned with space who uses various tricks and asks himself what it is that we normally designate landscape.” (Kirkeby in conversation with H.N. Jocks in Kunstforum International, 135/1996).

Alongside numerous solo exhibitions in major museums in different countries, Kirkeby has participated in the Venice Biennale several times, in documenta 7 in 1982, and documenta 9 in 1992 in Kassel. From 1978 to 1988 he held a professorship for painting at the Academy of Fine Arts, Karlsruhe and from 1989 to 2000 he taught at the Städelschule in Frankfurt.



Per Kirkeby is born on 1st September in Copenhagen


Studies Natural history and geology at the University of Copenhagen


Studies at the Experimental Art School in Copenhagen

Entry in the art group “Den Ekperimenterende Kunstkole”


Three-year grant oft he State Art Foundation


Gold medal of the Akademiråd


Professorship at the Kunstakademie, Karlsruhe


DAAD Grant, Berlin

Member of the Danish Academy of Literature


Thorvaldsen-Medaille von der Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts


Professorship at the Städelschule Frankfurt am Main


Art Prize of the Norddeutsche Landesbank, Hanover


Coutts Contemporary Art Foundation Award



Commission for 8 bronze sculptures for the building of the Deutsche Bundesrat


Receives Herbert-Boeckl-Prize for his lifework


Per Kirkeby dies on May 9th

Selected Solo Shows


Per Kirkeby. Aus der Nature (From Nature) – Museum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte Schloss Gottorf, Schleswig

Per Kirkeby – Kunsthalle Krems, Krems an der Donau

Per Kirkeby. Paintings and Bronzes from the 1980s – Michael Werner, New York


Per Kirkeby. Torso-Ast – Franz-Marc-Museum, Kochel am See

Per Kirkeby. Retrospektive – Kunstmuseum Mendrisio, Mendrisio

Per Kirkeby. Malerei & Skulptur – Galerie Thomas Salis, Salzburg


Per Kirkeby. Bilder auf Masonit und Arbeiten auf Papier – Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich

Per Kirkeby. The Blue of the Avant-Garde – Kunstforeningen GL STRAND, Copenhagen

Per Kirkeby. Werke aus dem Louisiana Museum of Modern Art – Paula Modersohn-Becker Museum, Bremen


Per Kirkeby komplett – Museum Jorn, Silkeborg

Per Kirkeby – Herning Center of the Arts, Herning

Per Kirkeby. Echo of the Light – The Gallery of Windsor, Florida


Per Kirkeby – Kunsthalle Gießen, Gießen

Per Kirkeby. Bronze, Kaltnadel, Holz – Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich

Per Kirkeby. Gemälde, Arbeiten auf Papier und eine Skulptur – Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich


Strukturen der Natur. Franz Marc und Per Kirkeby. Druckgraphik – Franz Marc Museum, Kochel am See

Per Kirkeby. Paintings and Sculpture 1964–2010 – Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine


Per Kirkeb. Retrospektive – Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

Per Kirkeby. Paintings and Sculpture 1964–2010 – The Phillips Collection, Washington

Per Kirkeby. Maler-Forscher-Bildhauer-Poet – Museum Küppersmühle, Duisburg

Per Kirkeby. Epiphany – Ny Carlsberg Glyptothek, Copenhagen


Per Kirkeby – Galerie Thomas Knöll, Basel

Per Kirkeby. Paintings – Michael Werner Gallery, New York


Per Kirkeby. Hansentryk – Galleri Bo Bjerggaard, Copenhagen


Per Kirkeby. Retrospektive – Tate Modern, London; Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf


Per Kirkeby. Retrospektive – Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk


Per Kirkeby. Figur – Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo

Per Kirkeby. Solo exhibition – Zendai MoMa, Shanghai


Per Kirkeby. Prototypen der Natur – Kunsthalle Emden, Emden

Per Kirkeby. Figur – Kunsthalle zu Kiel, Kiel


Per Kirkeby. Natur und Gestalt. Retrospektive der Zeichnungen und Aquarelle – Städtisches Kunstmuseum Singen, Singen


Per Kirkeby 122 × 122. Maleri på Masonit – Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk

Per Kirkeby 122 × 122. Gemälde auf Masonit – Museum Ludwig, Cologne


Per Kirkeby. Schwarze Bilder und Bronzen – Städtische Museen und Sammlungen für den Landesteil Schleswig, Museumsberg Flensburg, Flensburg

Per Kirkeby. Holzschnitte 1980–1999 – Kupferstich-Kabinett, Albertinum, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Dresden


Per Kirkeby – Tate Gallery, London

Per Kirkeby. Panorama – Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus

Per Kirkeby. Die Bronzen – Kunstbau der Städtischen Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich

Per Kirkeby. Bild, Zeichnung, Skulptur – Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf


Per Kirkeby. Skulpturen und Zeichnungen – Gerhard Marcks-Haus, Bremen


Per Kirkeby. Peintures 1992–1996 – Maison des Arts Georges Pompidou, Centre d'art contemporain, Cajarc-Lot

Per Kirkeby – St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis


Per Kirkeby – Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes, Nantes


Per Kirkeby. Imagens Posteriores – Fundaçao Bienal de São Paulo, São Paulo

Per Kirkeby. Oberazy a Sochy. Paintings and Sculptures – National Gallery of Prag, Palais Sternberk, Prague


Per Kirkeby – Magasin Centre National d'Art Contemporain de Grenoble, Grenoble

Border Crossings. Fourteen Scandinavian Artists – Barbican Art Gallery, London

documenta 9, Kassel


Per Kirkeby. Paintings and drawings – MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, USA

Per Kirkeby. Bilder – Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hanover


Per Kirkeby – Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk


Per Kirkeby. Pintures i esculturas – IVAM Centre del Carme, Valencia

Per Kirkeby. Werke 1983–1988 – Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Winterthur


Per Kirkeby. Schilderijen, sculpturen en modellen in brons – Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels


Per Kirkeby. Baksteensculptuur / Backsteinskulptur – Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam


Per Kirkeby. Skulptur und Druckgrafik – Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach


Per Kirkeby. Recent Painting & Sculpture – Whitechapel Art Gallery, London


Per Kirkeby. Zeichnungen und Aquarelle 1979 bis 1982 – Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich


Per Kirkeby – Musée d’Art Moderne de Straßburg, Strasbourg

Per Kirkeby. Übermalungen 1964–84 – Kunstraum, Munich

Uit het Noorden. Edvard Munch, Asger Jorn, Per Kirkeby – Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven

An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture – Museum of Modern Art, New York


Per Kirkeby. Zeichnungen 1964–1982 – DAAD Galerie, Berlin

Per Kirkeby. 6 Kobbertryk – Galleri Susanne Ottesen, Copenhagen

Per Kirkeby. Bilder von 1983 – Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne


Per Kirkeby – Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven

documenta 7, Kassel

Per Kirkeby. Bilder und Gouachen 1981 – Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich


A New Spirit in Painting – Royal Academy of Arts, London

Malerei in Deutschland – Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels


Per Kirkeby. Bilder 1977–1979 – Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich

Per Kirkeby – Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne


Per Kirkeby – Kunsthalle Bern, Bern; Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus


Per Kirkeby. Bilder. Backsteinskulpturen. Bücher – Museum Folkwang, Essen

Per Kirkeby. Fliegende Blätter – Museum Folkwang, Essen


Udstilling af et museum – Haderslev Museum, Haderslev

Per Kirkeby – Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne


Malerier, bl.a. 3 fløjede maleri, nu Brunlund skolen, Åbenrå – Jysk Kunstgalerie, Copenhagen


Per Kirkeby. Malerier – Jysk Kunstgalerie, Copenhagen

Per Kirkeby – Fyns Stiftsmuseum, Odense, Denmark


Ung dansk Kunst – Den Frie Tilbygningen, Copenhagen

Per Kirkeby. Malerier, tegninger m.m. Euklids rum – Galerie Jensen, Copenhagen


Per Kirkeby. Tegninger, collager – Hovedbibliotek, Copenhagen