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Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

Stephan Balkenhol - The Contemporary Arts Center

Stephan Balkenhol - The Contemporary Arts Center

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Devoid of expression or emotion, Stephan Balkenhol’s distinctive and timeless works are sculpted by his own hand, carved from a singular block of wood without the use of machinery.

Stephan Balkenhol was born in 1957 in Fritzlar, Germany. He lives and works in  Kassel, Germany.

Balkenhol studied at the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg from 1976-82. His focus on the human form and his intention to reintroduce figuration into contemporary art was a divergent response to the abstract, minimalist and conceptual approaches of the school during the 1970s. 

Balkenhol’s anonymous figures are painted in simple colour combinations that appear timeless yet familiar, both living and inanimate. They retain the grooves, cracks, chips and fissures that represent the sculpting process, demonstrating the artist’s raw and spontaneous treatment of the material. Balkenhol’s practice advances the longstanding tradition of woodcarving in Germany, inviting comparisons to expressionist sculptors such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Ernst Barlach. 

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