Per Kirkeby Untitled | 1999 _______________________________________________________ Kirkeby was born in 1938 in Copenhagen, in a working-class neighborhood known for its church, which went on to inspire some of the artist’s early creations. From a young age, he knew that he wanted to be a painter. Kirkeby rose to notoriety during the early 1980s alongside fellow European Neo-Expressionist artists Markus Lüpertz, A. R. Penck, Jörg Immendorff, and Georg Baselitz, all of whom brought a renewed emphasis on formalism and painterly technique to an art world that had, by then, nearly given up on their medium.
Drawing on the history of Nordic art, in particular Edvard Munch’s moody tableaux, Kirkeby engineered a style that placed an emphasis on mossy greens and dirt-like browns, sometimes punctuated by bursts of fiery red and orange. These hues were not necessarily foreboding in his hands, however. “My canvas is the plot of land and my colors—that is, the matter of paint itself—are the soil, the flower beds, with their different components and varying textures,” he said.