Sassen was born in Amsterdam, and lives there. She studied fashion design, followed by photography at the Utrecht School of the Arts (HKU) and Ateliers Arnhem and has often been described as a creative polymath. Her distinct visual language is articulated by a deep awareness of the formalist concerns of painting, sculpture and photography, as well as an acute sense of colour, texture and the optical resonances of pattern and design.
Solo exhibitions have taken place at Musée Des Beaux-Arts, Le Locle (2019); the Hepworth Wakefield (2018); Fotografiska (2017); Foto Kunst Stadform, Austria (2017); the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg (2017); the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (2017); Hordaland Kunstsenter, Bergen (2016); Atelier Néerlandais, Paris (2015); The Photographers’ Gallery, London (2015); ICA, London (2015); and Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam (2014).
Her work was included on the main exhibition of the 55th Venice Biennale, The Encyclopedic Palace, in 2013 and she has exhibited in notable group shows: at Chateau de Versailles (2019); at the NRW-Forum, Düsseldorf (2018); CAFA Museum, China (2018); the Pulitzer Arts Foundation (2017); Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (2017); Museum für Neue Kunst Freiburg, Germany (2016); Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle (2016); New Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2011).
A retrospective of 17 years of Sassen’s fashion work, In and Out of Fashion, opened at Huis Marseille Museum for Photography, Amsterdam, in 2012, and travelled to the Rencontres d’Arles festival, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Savannah College of Art and Design, Fotografie Forum Frankfurt and Fotomuseum Winterthur.