Per Kirkeby

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Per Kirkeby
Born(1938-09-01)1 September 1938
Copenhagen, Denmark
Died9 May 2018(2018-05-09) (aged 79)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Alma materUniversity of Copenhagen
OccupationPoet, writer, sculptor
Years active1955–2018
AwardsPrince Eugen Medal (1990)
Thorvaldsen Medal (1987)

Per Kirkeby (1 September 1938 – 9 May 2018)[1] was a Danish painter, poet, film maker and sculptor.[2]


Brick sculpture by Per Kirkeby in front of German National Library in Frankfurt/Main, Germany

By the time Kirkeby completed a masters degree in arctic geology at the University of Copenhagen in 1964, he was already part of the important experimental art school "eks-skolen." His interest in geology and other aspects of the natural world was fundamental to and characteristic of his art. Kirkeby worked as a painter, sculptor, writer, and printmaker.

Kirkeby taught as a professor at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (1978–89) and at Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main (1989–2000). Per Kirkeby was a member of the Danish Academy from 1982. In 1997 he became a Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog.

His works have been exhibited worldwide and are represented in many important public collections, e.g. Tate, London; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York, Centre Pompidou, Paris.

Personal life[edit]

From 1979 until 2002, Per Kirkeby was married to film producer Vibeke Windeløv. From 2005 until his death, he was married to copywriter Mari Anne Duus Jørgensen. He had four children: two daughters and two sons.

Career timeline[edit]

1962 Studies at the Experimental Art School in Copenhagen; works in the School on painting, graphic arts, 8 millimeter films and performance pieces

1974 Publishes Fliegende Blätter

1976 Participates in Venice Biennale (also in 1980, 1993, 1997 and 2005)

1977 One-man exhibition in the Museum Folkwang, Essen

1978 Professorship at the Academy of Fine Arts, Karlsruhe

1979 Purchases a house on the island Laeso in the Cattegat

1982 One-man exhibition in the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Documenta VII, Kassel

1988 Publishes books of essays on Delacroix, Manet, Picasso

1990 Receives the Art Prize of NORD/LB, endowed for outstanding efforts in the subject of contemporary art

1996 Receives the Coutts Contemporary Art Foundation Award and the Henrik-Steffens-Award 1996

1999 Designs Swan Lake, New York City Ballet

2000 Professorship at the Städelschule, Frankfurt a.M.

2003 Receives Herbert-Boeckl-Preis for his lifework

2005 He marries Mari Anne Duus Jørgensen in Grundtvigkirken, one of the architectural turning points in Copenhagen that he has written extensively about. This marriage has proven extremely important for the continuation of his art and her research.

2007 Designs set and costumes for Romeo and Juliet, New York City Ballet; first major exhibition in China at Shanghai Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai; "Per Kirkeby", Arts Club of Chicago

2008 "Per Kirkeby Retrospective", Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark

2009 "Per Kirkeby Retrospective", Tate Modern, London

2013 Sustains a serious brain injury in a domestic fall accident[3]

2015 Announces that he has given up all further attempts to resume painting after the accident,[4] but still does create small etchings.[3]

Per Kirkeby lived and worked in Hellerup, Læsø, Frankfurt am Main and Italy.

Selected exhibitions[edit]

Per Kirkeby's untitled fresco in the Black Diamond in Copenhagen

"Per Kirkeby", Kunsthalle Krems (2018)

"Per Kirkeby: Sculptures en brique", Palais des études, Beaux-Arts de Paris (2017)

"Kirkeby på Læsø – om Læsø i Per Kirkebys kunst", Læsø Kunsthal, Østerby, Denmark (2016)

"Per Kirkeby komplet. Det raderede livsværk", Museum Jorn, Silkeborg, Denmark (2015)

"Per Kirkeby – Samlingen", ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark (2012)

"Per Kirkeby", Tate Modern, London (2009)

"Per Kirkeby", Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Copenhagen (2008)

Designs settings and costumes for Romeo and Juliet, New York City Ballet (2007)

"Per Kirkeby", Shanghai Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai (2007)

"Per Kirkeby", Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago (2007)

"Per Kirkeby", Statens Museum for Kunst Copenhagen (2006)

"Per Kirkeby: Prototypes of Nature", Kunsthalle im Emden, Emden (2006)

"Per Kirkeby", Kunsthalle zu Kiel, Kiel, Germany (2006)

"Per Kirkeby / Crystal – Reflections, Connections and References", Aargaouer Kunsthaus, Aarau, Switzerland (2006)

"Homage to Chillida", Guggenheim, Bilbao (2006)

"Per Kirkeby: Retrospettiva dei Disegni", Accademia Tedesca in Roma, Villa Massimo, Rome (2004)

"Per Kirkeby: Natur und Gestalt. Retrospektive der Zeichnungen und Aquarelle", Sinclair-Haus, Bad Homburg v.d.H. (2003); Städtisches Kunstmuseum Singen, Germany (2004)

"Per Kirkeby. Monotypes", University Art Gallery, University Massachusetts Dartmouth, North Dartmouth, MA (2002)

"DC: Per Kirkeby. 122 x 122 – Gemälde auf Masonit", Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2002)

"Per Kirkeby. Die Karlsruher Jahre", im Hallenbau A, Städtische Galerie Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe (2000)

"Per Kirkeby. Radierungen, Holzschnitte, Monotypien • 1980-2000", Niels Borch Jensen Galerie und Verlag, Berlin (2000)

"Per Kirkeby. Schilderijen, sculpturen en modellen in brons/Peintures, Sculptures et modèles en bronze", Paleis voor Schone Kunsten/Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels, (1998)

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

"Retrospektive", Ludwig Museum, Cologne (1987)

"Per Kirkeby: Recent Paintings and Sculpture", Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1985)

"An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture", Museum of Modern Art, New York (1984)

"Per Kirkeby", Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven (1982)

"Per Kirkeby", Kunsthalle Bern (1978)

"Fliegende Blätter", Museum Folkwang Essen (1977)

Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen (1975)


  1. ^ "Kongen af dansk malerkunst er død" (in Danish). Politiken. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  2. ^ "Per Kirkeby". Weilbachs Kunstnerleksikon. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Stockmann, Camilla (31 January 2015). "Interview: Kirkeby: "Jeg har opgivet at være maler"" [Interview: Kirkeby: "I have given up being a painter"]. Magasinet. Politiken. Photo by Joachim Adrian. Copenhagen. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  4. ^ "Per Kirkeby opgiver maleriet" [Per Kirkeby abandons painting]. Kristeligt Dagblad. 31 January 2015. Retrieved 31 January 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Per Kirkeby. Kaere Aby Warburg in "MozArt" – edited by Bruno Corà, Perugia, 3Arte – Ali&no editrice, n.1 2012, pag. 28-39 - ISBN 978-88-6254-092-6
  • Tøjner, Poul Erik: Per Kirkeby. Malerei. Köln : König, 2003
  • Per Kirkeby. Natur und Gestalt. Retrospektive der Zeichnungen und Aquarelle, (Sinclair-Haus, Altana Kulturforum, Bad Homburg v.d. Höhe; Deutsche Akademie Rom, Villa Massimo; Städtisches Kunstmuseum Singen). Bad Homburg v.d. Höhe : ALTANA, 2003
  • Per Kirkeby. Sorte billeder og bronzer. Schwarze Bilder und Bronzen, (Kat. Museumsberg, Flensburg, Tønder/ Flensburg: Sønderjyllands Kunstmuseum/Museumsberg, 1999
  • Per Kirkeby, malerier og bronzer, Magasin 3, art gallery, Stockholm 1999
  • Kirkeby, Per: Gespräche mit Lars Morell, Köln: König, 1998 (Kunstwissenschaftliche Bibliothek; Bd. 8), Zugl. Kopenhagen: Borgens, 1997
  • Per Kirkeby. Großformatige Zeichnungen 1977–1994 (Kat.), Portikus, Frankfurt a.M., Münster: Kleinheinrich, 1994
  • Per Kirkeby. Gemälde, Arbeiten auf Papier, Skulpturen 1977–90 (Kat.), Frankfurt a.M.: Städelsches Kunstinstitut, 1990
  • Per Kirkeby. Pinturas, esculturas, grabados y escritos (Kat.), Valencia: IVAM, Centre del Carme, 1989
  • Per Kirkeby. Übermalungen 1964–1984, (Kat.), München: Kunstraum, 1984
  • Hunov, John: Per Kirkeby. Oeuvrekatalog 1958–1977 over raderinger, linoleumssnit, træsnit, Kopenhagen: Borgens, 1979
  • Per Kirkeby. Fliegende Blätter (Kat.), Essen: Museum Folkwang, 1977

External links[edit]