Per Kirkeby, b. 1938, is the contemporary Danish artist to have made the greatest impression abroad, where throughout the 1980s and 1990s he took part in many important exhibitions of contemporary art, including the Documenta in Kassel.
He works in painting, graphic art and sculpture, he has produced films including one on Asger Jorn and written a large number of books.
As one of the driving forces behind Den Eksperimenterende Kunstskole (The Experimental School of Art), Per Kirkeby has from 1962 taken part in several exhibitions and happenings, including Arctic I-III (1967-68), which derived from his participation (as a geologist) in expeditions to Greenland.
In his first paintings from the 1960s he experimented with form and material, and the pictures were often collage-like, composed of traced silhouette figures fitted into a formless space of coloured mists.
Since the 1970s Kirkeby has worked in a more thoroughgoing colouristic expressionism in which the figurative element has been either partially or entirely absent. His starting point might be motifs from nature a tree trunk, the fungi of the forest floor or from the history of art a torso, architectural ruins.
As a sculptor Per Kirkeby has executed simple, but often large-scale, monumental brick sculptures and dark bronze sculptures. In the period 1978-89 he was Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe and in 1989 he was appointed Professor in Frankfurt. He is represented in many museums in Denmark and abroad.
Vibeke Skov, Gyldendal Leksikon