October 2, 2012

Per Kirkeby: Paintings and Sculpture

Phillips Collection
Per Kirkeby, A Picture of Yucatan, 1972–73. Mixed media on Masonite, 48 x 48 in. ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus, Denmark.

One of Europe’s most celebrated living artists, Per Kirkeby (Danish, b. 1938), is a painter, sculptor, geologist, filmmaker, writer, and poet. The most comprehensive display of his work in the U.S. to date, the exhibition features 26 richly layered paintings and 11 striking bronze models. Kirkeby’s art does not fit into a single style or movement; he believes that art, like science, is constantly in flux. His works incorporate all aspects of natural history, from the progression of humanity to the scientific evolution of the world, reflecting the artist’s considerable curiosity about the infinite variety of life.

Kirkeby is equally trained in geology and art, studying arctic geology at the University of Copenhagen and making expeditions to Greenland and South America. In 1962 he enrolled in the newly created Experimental Art School in Copenhagen, which turned away from traditional artistic practice to focus on new genres including pop art, minimalism, and the radical anti-art fluxus movement, along with new materials such as film and performance.

Kirkeby has also made more than 20 short films and full-length features that address art and natural history and has published more than 70 books of poetry, essays, and novels. He lives and works in Copenhagen and Læsø, Denmark, and Arnasco, a small town near Genoa, Italy. Major retrospectives of his work were held at the Tate Modern, London (2009), and the Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf, Germany (2010). His work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.

Per Kirkeby: Paintings and Sculpture is organized by the Phillips Collection. It is co-curated by Phillips Director Dorothy Kosinski and Curator at Large Klaus Ottmann. The exhibition is proudly sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Denmark, and Nykredit. Additional support is provided by Queen Margrethe’s and Prince Henrik’s Foundation and by the Danish Arts Council Committee for International Visual Arts. The exhibition will be on view at Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine, March 26 through June 30, 2013.

The 144-page exhibition catalogue, published by the Phillips Collection and Yale University Press, includes an essay by Klaus Ottmann and an interview with the artist by Dorothy Kosinski, as well as color reproductions of Kirkeby’s art.

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