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Michael Sandle

Epithet: Artist (1936- )

Biography: Michael Sandle studied at the Douglas School of Art and Technology from 1951 to 1954. He left the Isle of Man in 1954 serving two years' National Service in the Royal Artillery, during which time he was also able to attend evening classes at Chester College of Art. Sandle later studied printmaking at the Slade School of Fine Art, London for three years followed by a period travelling in Europe.

Since the 1960s Sandle has taught in various art schools and universities in Britain, Canada and Germany and from 1980 was the Professor of Sculpture at the Akademie der Bildenden Kunste, Karlsruhe, Germany. He has now retired from teaching and lives in England.

Michael Sandle was elected to the Royal Academy in 1989 but resigned in 1998 (with other Royal Academicians) in protest against the controversial ‘Sensation’ exhibition. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1994 and was re-elected to the Royal Academy in 2004.

Sandle’s early work is considered to emphasise craftsmanship and the search for symbols. This has not changed, but the scale and monumentality of his works has dramatically increased over the past 40 years.

Sandle’s sculptures and prints, although radically different in size and medium, often reflect similar themes of war, death, destruction, inhumanity and media manipulation. Often these themes are seen to their greatest and most dramatic effect in his public commissions, e.g. the Memorial of the Victims of a Helicopter Disaster, Mannheim (1985) and the architecture and sculpture for the Malta Siege Memorial (1989-93). This was a vast project which included not only a major figurative sculpture, but also a thirteen-tonne bronze bell.

The often violent military images found in Sandle’s work are not intended to glorify war but to highlight what the artist sees as ‘the heroic decadence’ of capitalism, in particular its appetite for global conflict. His art attacks the media for its packaging and sanitising of the destructiveness of war. This sense of outrage was illustrated in 1986 by his production of the Belgrano Medal - a Medal of Dishonour, a bronze medal depicting Margaret Thatcher as a death’s head labelled ‘Shameless Empress’.

Gender: Male

Date of birth: 1936

Place of birth: Weymouth, England


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