Bowdoin College Museum of Art
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Dark Cave, 1967. Oil, mixed media on Masonite, 48” x 48”. Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York and Berlin. (detail).
Per Kirkeby: Paintings and Sculpture
March 26, 2013 - July 14, 2013
Bowdoin Gallery
Boyd Gallery
Markell Gallery
Shaw Ruddock Gallery
Walker Gallery

The exhibition introduces to American audiences Danish artist Per Kirkeby (born 1938), one of Europe's most celebrated contemporary artists. With his Scandinavian sensibility Kirkeby articulates responses to the Northern landscape that will resonate with audiences in the Northeast. The artist's roles as geologist, filmmaker, architect, writer, and poet are reflected in this survey of approximately 45 works. Kirkeby's paintings and sculptures are constantly in flux, maintaining a dialogue between art and science. Organized by the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., this is Per Kirkeby's first American retrospective. After the Phillips Collection, Bowdoin is the only other venue hosting this important show.

This exhibition and related programming received major support from The A. P. Møller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation. Additional support is from Bath Savings Institution, the Danish Arts Council, Roy A. Hunt Foundation, Coco Kim and Richard Schetman P '13, the Becker Fund for the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, the Stevens L. Frost Endowment Fund, Lowell Innes Fund, Karl R. Philbrick Art Museum Fund, and the Katharine J. Watson Fund.

In conjunction with Per Kirkeby: Paintings and Sculpture, the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum has brought together a selection of photographs of Peary Land by Robert E. Peary and Per Kirkeby illustrating these two very different men’s first encounter with the amazing landscape in the northernmost coast of Greenland. Peary/Kirkeby: Views of Peary Land is on view from May 29 through July 14 at the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum at Bowdoin College.

Audio Tour

(click image to begin)

Related Programs

Thursday, April 4, 2013 | 4:30 p.m. | Kresge Auditorium, Visual Arts Center, Bowdoin College

Per Kirkeby: Subjective Thinker, Anti-Artist, Historical Painter

by Klaus Ottmann, Director, Center for the Study of Modern Art and Curator at Large, Phillips Collection

Klaus Ottmann, co-curator of Per Kirkeby: Paintings and Sculpture, introduces themes and processes that characterize the work of Scandinavia’s most highly acclaimed visual artist. Kirkeby’s early training as a geologist is evident in his richly layered canvases, which are structured like geological strata. His striking bronze sculptures of fragmented body parts are similarly based in a deep dialogue with nature.

Thursday, April 4, 2013 | 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. | Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Spring Open House at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art

 A festive reception to celebrate the opening of Per Kirkeby: Paintings and Sculpture as well as other spring exhibitions.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 | 7:00 p.m. | Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Gallery talk: Arts and Sciences in Conversation

 A gallery talk with Bowdoin faculty Jim Mullen, associate professor of art; Collin Roesler, associate professor of earth and oceanographic science; and Mary Lou Zeeman, R. Wells Johnson Professor of Mathematics. This interdisciplinary dialogue will focus on the exhibition Per Kirkeby: Painting and Sculpture and Sense of Scale, Measure of Color: Art, Science and Mathematics of Planet Earth and will generate compelling synergies between the Arts and sciences.

Thursday, April 18, 2013 | 7:00 p.m. | Smith Auditorium, Sills Hall, Bowdoin College

 Per Kirkeby’s Heavy Metal

by Sarah K. Rich, Associate Professor of Art History, Penn State University

Sarah K. Rich delivers a lecture on Per Kirkeby’s bronze sculptures, an important yet understudied dimension of his creative practice. Rich specializes in art produced in the United States and France during the 1950s and 1960s. Her current book project is titled “Past Flat: Other Sides to American Abstraction in the Cold War.” 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 | 12:30 p.m. | Bowdoin College Museum of Art 

Exhibition Tour: Per Kirkeby: Paintings and Sculpture

Enjoy a lunchtime tour of the exhibition led by curatorial staff. Explore the artist's earthy sculptures and large paintings filled with brushwork, vivid color, and evocative symbolism.

Thursday, May 2, 2013 | 7:00 p.m. | Bowdoin College Museum of Art 

A Dramatic Reading of Texts by Per Kirkeby


The artist Per Kirkeby is an accomplished writer, whose texts can be meditative, acerbic, biographical, and poetic. Bowdoin College students will give dramatic readings of selected texts in front of works in the exhibition.

Mordet i Finderup Lade (Murder at Finderup Barn), 1967. Oil on canvas; 48” x 48”. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark. Acquired with funding from the Otto Bruun Foundation.
Dark Cave, 1967. Oil, mixed media on Masonite, 48x48. Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York and Berlin.

A Picture of Yucatan, 1965. Synthetic paint on Masonite, 48x48. ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark.
Per Kirkeby, Untitled, 2009. Tempera on canvas. Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York and Berlin.