Stephan Balkenhol was born in 1957 in Fritzlar, Germany. He now lives and works in Meisenthal, France.
Attending the Hamburg School of Fine Arts from 1976 – 82, Balkenhol was exposed to the Minimalist and Conceptual trends popular at that time, with tutors including Nam June Paik and Sigmar Polke. His experience here profoundly affected his subsequent artistic practice. Sensing an absence in these two schools of thought, Balkenhol sought out the human figure and began a considered campaign to reintroduce it into contemporary art, declaring: “I must reinvent the figure to resume an interrupted tradition”.
As a renowned sculptor, Balkenhol is recognised not only for the technical prowess with which he hand carves each of his wooden sculptures, but for his continual devotion to exploring the role of the figure within contemporary art. The artist’s unique sculptures combine anonymous human figures with tall pedestals, all hand carved from singular blocks, often of poplar or wawa wood. The figures emanate timelessness: simple, plain-coloured clothing and the confident yet unassuming poses of the everyday man.
Balkenhol has developed a significant repertoire of public commissions spanning his twenty-year career, with installations in front of the Blackfriars Bridge in London, at the entrance of the Hamburg Zoo; at the Städelsches Kunstinstitut in Frankfurt; and in Kassel and Leipzig, Germany.
Balkenhol’s works are included in prominent collections internationally, including the Musée des Beaux Arts de Montréal, Quebec; Smithsonian Institution, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany; Musée de Grenoble, France; The National Museum of Art, Osaka and Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice.Download the artist biography