When Menashe Kadishman (1932-2015) was 15 his father died and Kadishman left school to help support his family, while taking evening art classes with Aharon Avni. In 1950 he joined the Nahal Brigade in the Army, and was assigned to Ma'ayan Baruch, on the borders of Lebanon, Syria and Israel. He worked as a shepherd, which affected many of his works, most notably his famous colorful sheep portraits, which he began painting in 1995.
From 1947 to 1950, Kadishman studied with the Israeli sculptor Moshe Sternschuss at the Avni Institute of Art and Design in Tel Aviv, and in 1954 with the Israeli sculptor Rudi Lehmann in Jerusalem.
In 1959, he moved to London, where he attended the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and the Slade School of Art. During 1959 and 1960 he also studied with Anthony Caro and Reg Butler. He remained in London until 1972 and witnessed the development of pop-art.
His sculptures of the 1960s were Minimalist in style, and so designed as to appear to defy gravity. This was achieved either through careful balance and construction, as in Suspense (1966), or by using glass and metal so that the metal appeared unsupported, as in Segments (1968). The glass allowed the environment to be part of the work.
In October 1982 the Lebanon War broke out and his son was drafted. He began to paint large compositions of heroism and death, the horrors of war and the sacrifice of Isaac. Kadishman felt he was Abraham – sacrificing his own son on the altar of the Supreme Order – the Country's order.
In 1988 Kadishman began a new series: Birth, with a silhouette of a mother giving birth, and created hundreds of variations of the theme. He linked the birth with the sacrifice. In the Sacrifice of Isaac Sarah becomes an active partner, as she symbolizes the mothers of the fallen soldiers.