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Per Kirkeby's Nordic Neo-Expressionism

Per Kirkeby (1 September 1938 – 9 May 2018) was a Danish painter, poet, author, printmaker, sculptor, and film maker. 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." in the Danish capital.

Kirkeby's first steps as an artist were within the Pop Art movement, and in 1968, he made his first short film under the influence of Andy Warhol's film theory. He produced happenings and films with amongst others fellow Danish artist Bjørn Nørgaard, and was associated with Fluxus, an international, interdisciplinary community of artists, composers, designers and poets during the 1960s and 1970s who engaged in experimental art performances which emphasized the artistic process over the finished product.

Kirkeby's multidisciplinary oeuvre includes oil paintings, bronze sculptures, brick sculptures, films poems, novels, and essays on famous artists.

Although his first works can be situated within Pop Art and Fluxus, Per Kirkeby is best known as a Neo-Expressionist, albeit with a Nordic sensibility. His works often feel dark and brooding, featuring earthy colors. “In my paintings, you experience a clear sense of space, and at the same time you also feel enclosed,” Kirkeby once said to a correspondent for ARTnews magazine.

In several of his works, Christian symbols are seen. His interest in geology and other aspects of the natural world were also fundamental to and characteristic of his art.


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