Per Kirkeby

Per Kirkeby  Danish artist   1938–2018 Painter, poet, film-maker, geologist and sculptor.

The more I look at the work of artists to research for this course, the more I realise how impoverished we are using photos as reference points.  I am sure that if i was able to see a work like ‘Weltuntergang‘ (below) in ‘person’, it would have so much more impact than just looking at a thumbnail on a webpage.   No matter how well photographed the source image is, it can never substitute for seeing the actual painting up front and personal.     But needs must hey?

“I’m a painter and have painted a painting,” he said. “And really, I don’t want to say anything more about it.”

(From the Guardian obit credited below)
Composition 1978 Per Kirkeby born 1938 Presented by Jytte Dresing, The Merla Art Foundation, Dresing Collection 2012

My tutor asked me to have a look at Kirkeby’s work with regards to line and colour – of which there is an abundance. I watched a very interesting YouTube interview with him (2015). ‘Colour has a substance’ he says in the video. He also discusses his use (and perhaps, ‘misuse’) of colour, how he often paints over anything that’s ‘pretty’. You can see the geologist in his work – especially in the colossal painting below (the YouTube video gives a much clearer idea of how large this work is)

Per Kirkeby, Weltuntergang (End of the World), 2001–02, oil on canvas, 3 x 5.1 m

Per Kirkeby
Brett – Felsen 2000 (
Per Kirkeby in front of one of his paintings 2009 (from Guardian Obit credited below)

I have seen many images online of his work, it was difficult to find a couple to put here for reference, as the scope of his output was phenomenal.


About the painting ‘Composition’ which was made one year after he started working in oils – 1978   (films)  (Brett-Felsen image) (Weltuntergang image)

YouTube   We build upon ruins video.  (2015)

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