Exhibition Review: Per Kirkeby at the Phillips Collection

Posted on November 29, 2012


Per Kirkeby. Untitled. 2009.

Per Kirkeby: Paintings and Sculpture, The Phillips Collection’s survey of works by the 74-year-old Danish artist, is a must-see exhibition for anyone who has walked through that museum’s collection of early modernist masters wondering which, if any, of today’s painters have picked up the project they bequeathed to us.

That Kirkeby’s paintings hold their ground on the top floor of the museum—without the letdown that generally accompanies the shift from viewing past masters to contemporaries—is a testament to the painter’s great intelligence and vitality. It is also a reminder that the project of painting is, in the best of cases, a continually developing and continually relevant conversation with the past. Kirkeby is linked to his forbears by his restless probing of the medium’s potential to give voice to the totality of our lived experience. Using dramatic shifts of color, scale and form in otherwise literal spaces, Kirkeby draws attention to the great flux of the material world that we synthesize into a coherent experience of seeing.

read the full review, as originally published in Art New England