Per Kirkeby — gravures et monotypes



Per Kirkeby
gravures et monotypes

Past: June 3 → July 17, 2020

“Engraving is a mark. A mark of the movements of matter. This is the case of all art but engraving is so conspicuously a mark that its presence becomes exciting. A mark of the movements of matter, a mark of the soul—it is nature. Nature is larger than reality”.

Per Kirkeby


Born in 1938 in Copenhagen, the painter, sculptor, engraver, film-maker and writer Per Kirkeby was a major figure in contemporary Scandinavian art. He died in 2018 in the city in which he was born.

In a selection of prints made from 1989 to 2013, the exhibition shows the variety and printing techniques that Kirkeby used: drypoint, aquatint, wood engraving, lithography and also monotypes, another aspect of his printmaking work.

Per Kirkeby made monotypes from the end of the 1980s. In 2009, in its first monographic exhibition of work by the artist, Galerie Catherine Putman showed a series of large vertical monotypes made in the 2000s. This time, a large monotype dated 2010 and measuring 186 × 139 cm and two others of medium format illustrate this practice by the artist. As in his painting, we see again the ochre and brown tones and the strata and faults that are a reminder of his training as a geologist. A monotype is the proof of a painting made on a metal, glass or plexiglass plate. The artist works freely on the chosen support using printing inks. A sheet of paper is laid on the painted plate and passed through a press.

Two drypoint and aquatint engravings—also monumental—dated 1989-1990 show that Kirkeby had a broad approach to printmaking and the scales of work that this allows. The choice of format and its verticality invite a look at the monumentality of the arctic landscapes through which he travelled—rendered by fragments of landscapes, tree trunks or pieces of rock.

In contrast with the large aquatints, the exhibition also includes ten drypoint engravings on zinc in sketchbook format and assembled in the portfolio “Isua” 2004 made within the framework of the expedition by the Danish geologist Minik Rosing to Isua in Greenland. At the edge of the Greenland icecap, the Isua Greenstone Belt is the site of some of the oldest rocks in the world.

This way of working, of engraving a zinc plate facing an imposing landscape during scientific expeditions was shown brilliantly by La Maison du Danemark in Paris and at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Caen in 2015 and 2016 in an exhibition entitled ‘Per Kirkeby and the polar region’.

04 Beaubourg Zoom in 04 Beaubourg Zoom out

40, rue Quincampoix

75004 Paris

T. 01 45 55 23 06 — F. 01 47 05 61 43


Opening hours

Tuesday – Saturday, 2 PM – 7 PM
Other times by appointment

Venue schedule

The artist

  • Per Kirkeby