Per Kirkeby: Building and Painting
Frank Boehm, Anna Czerlitzki
Stiftung Insel Hombroich & Distanz, 2019
Architecture Meets Painting in the Oeuvre of Per Kirkeby. Per Kirkeby (b. Copenhagen, 1938; d. Copenhagen, 2018) was widely hailed as the leading Danish contemporary artist. A painter, sculptor, architect, and poet, he deftly interwove figurative and abstract art. In his works in large formats, luminous colors share the space on rugged canvases with other materials. Nature was the fulcrum of his art, which is formidably sensual, but without lapsing into romanticism. Exhibitions at the Tate Modern, the MoMA, and the Centre Pompidou and participations in documenta 7 and 11 and the Venice Biennale brought Kirkeby to the attention of wide international audiences. For many years, Germany was the central scene of his creative endeavors – Kirkeby taught painting at the State Academy of Fine Arts Karlsruhe and later at the Städelschule in Frankfurt and was close friends with Joseph Beuys, Markus Lüpertz, and Martin Kippenberger, and many others.Stiftung Insel Hombroich now mounts a focused retrospective of his oeuvre: between 1997 and 2009, Kirkeby created six walk-in architectonic brick sculptures on the foundation’s grounds. The exhibition Per Kirkeby. Building and Painting complements these works with paintings, bronzes, and models spanning five decades. The interplay between the sets of works on view illuminates the multifaceted relations between architecture, sculpture, and painting; between space, light, and shadow. The catalogue accompanying the show includes a survey of the architectural history of the foundation’s campus by Frank Boehm and Anna Czerlitzki; an essay by the arthistorian Denys Zacharopolous, a close associate of Kirkeby’s; and a conversation between Niels Olsen, Fredi Fischli, and the architect Jan de Vylder about this truly exceptional artist and the relations between architecture and visual art.