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Per Kirkeby: Serial Thinking

As well as printmaking, Danish artist Per Kirkeby’s (b. 1938) oeuvre includes painting, sculpture, architecture, writing (poetry, essays, and travel books), and performance. Kirkeby studied arctic geology in Copenhagen; he gained a Masters degree in 1964, by which time he was already a member of Eks-Skolen, an experimental art school consisting of committed avant-gardists grouped around the artist Poul Gernes. Watercolors and drawings—made on geology field trips—attested to an interest in visualizing nature partly through a geological lens that continues today in the monotypes and etchings on view in this exhibition. A retrospective of Kirkeby’s work was held at the Louisiana Museum of Art, Denmark, and Tate Modern, London in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

Two years after a stroke resulting from a fall down stairs at home in 2013 Kirkeby declared an end to his career as a painter—though not as an artist working with printmaking. The injury had left him unable to see colors or orient himself in the large canvases that had been typical throughout his career, or to recognize faces, even his wife’s. He fought against the “defects to his vision,” as he put it, and resumed work “as the artist he is now.”...

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