Balkenhol was born in 1957 in Fritzlar, Hesse, Germany, and studied art at the Hamburg School of Fine Arts (1976—82) known for its Minimalist and Conceptualist profile. His first figures appeared in 1983 as a reaction to these artistic practices that celebrated either abstract formalism or sheer ideas, and also in response to the artist’s interest in reintroducing the image of the human body in contemporary art. These early sculptures consisted of single male or female nudes attached to pedestals, echoing the tradition of classical Egyptian, Roman, and Greek statues. From the mid-1980s to the present, Balkenhol continued to depict the human figure, but now as ordinary looking men or women in simple clothing. In addition, during the early 1990s, he began to make animal figures alone or in combination with humans, as well as their hybrids. It is through these works, all carved out of wood, that Balkenhol established himself as an internationally reknown artist.
Balkenhol lives and works in Karlsruhe, Germany, and Meisenthal, France. He has exhibited widely in Europe and the United States, including at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington D.C. (1995), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Saatchi Collection in London (1996), and the Arts Club of Chicago (1998), among many other museums and galleries.
Excerpt from Brown University website, Providence, Rhode Island