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Stephan Balkenhol, b.1957

Large Head1991

Since his adolescence, the German artist Stephan Balkenhol has experimented with sculptural head carving. Despite having been trained by Ulrich Ruckriem, one of the leading European Minimalist sculptors, Balkenhol rejected his abstract training in favour of figurative sculpture in an attempt to completely reinvent the figure.

‘Large Head’, which was purchased from Balkenhol’s 1991-2 exhibition at IMMA – is one of five sculpted heads made by him in 1991. It expresses the artist’s wish to create an art form that derives equally from art and from life. The realism of the head is undermined by its enormous size. Here, as in most of his sculpture, the work clearly reveals the material – wood – and the carving process through which it was made. The wooden surface is rough; the integrity of the wood with its characteristic cracks and blemishes is foregrounded. The functional plinth on which it stands and the bland, unpainted ‘wooden’ features pose deliberate challenges to perceptions of hierarchical public monuments and to the earlier German expressionist tradition of limewood carving.

MediumWawa wood
Dimensions224 x 92 x 82 cm
Credit LineIMMA Collection: Purchase, 1992
Item NumberIMMA.93
On view IMMA Collection: Freud Project 2016-2021. Gaze, IMMA Freud Centre, 04/10/2018 - 06/05/2019
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Image Caption
Stephan Balkenhol, Large Head, 1991, Wawa wood, 224 x 92 x 82 cm, Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Purchase, 1992

For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: info@imma.ie.

About the Artist

Stephan Balkenhol b.1957

German sculptor Stephan Balkenhol studied at the Hamburg School of Fine Arts, known for its Minimalist and Conceptualist profile. He went on to reject abstract formalism in favour of figurative sculpture. His large scale works are part of many public and private collections and he has exhibited widely, including a show at IMMA from 1991 to 1992. — View Artist »