Michael Sailstorfer

Biography of Michael Sailstorfer

The sculptures and installations of Michael Sailstorfer force us to question the very nature of sculpture, and to see that our environment is far more fragile than we first may think. Born in 1979 in a small Bavarian farming village, Michael Sailstorfer is the son of a stone sculptor. Having started out with drawing he was soon convinced by his teachers at a Munich art school to convert fully to sculpture, because his works centered around explorations of space. He later completed his MA Fine Arts at Goldsmiths, London in 2003.


Michael Sailstorfer himself sees his work as transforming “the essence of an object.” Famously in 2014, the artist buried £10,000 worth of gold bullion on Folkestone beach as part of the Folkestone Triennial in England. The piece entitled Folkestone Digs, questioned the value of art as a commodity, and made us reconsider how we view a place—as well as causing a spike in sales of metal detectors.


Using commonplace objects, Michael Sailstorfer, cunningly manipulates their use to provoke feelings of confusion and unsettlement. As a result he forces the audience to reconsider their relationship with ordinary things as well as to re-evaluate how they relate to their natural environment. Exploring ideas of movement, nature and our relationship to the everyday, his objects are never disassembled but their meanings reconfigured.


Based now in Berlin, Michael Sailstorfer’s aim is to make art that comes “less from the head and more from the stomach.” He has had numerous solo shows including at the Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt in 2008, and at the Berlinische Galerie, Berlin in 2012. He has been involved in numerous international group shows including at the Museum Tinguely in Basel, Switzerland in 2005. In 2012 Michael Sailstorfer won the prestigious Vattenfall Contemporary prize—previous winners include Julian Rosefeldt and Gregor Hildebrandt.

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