Stefan Saal was born in Münich, West Germany, in 1952.
In 1953 he emigrated to America with his family on the S.S. Liberté, and was raised in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase suburbs of Washington, DC.
For three years during high school, he worked as a student scientist in the Section on Neuropsychology, National Institutes of Mental Health, in Bethesda, MD, under the aegis of Dr. Mortimer Mishkin.
In 1972, he left Haverford College after three semesters, and enlisted in the U.S. Army. While in the Army, he studied Chinese-Mandarin for one year at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA, and was then stationed for two years in Tokyo, where he served in the 500th Military Intelligence Group. During his time in Japan, he met the artist Isamu Noguchi, who encouraged him to pursue sculpture in natural materials.
Returning to Haverford in 1975, he studied the origins of Chinese and Greek philosophy under Prof. Paul Desjardins, while studying art with Christopher Cairns, Charles Stegemann, Bruce Gagnier, Fritz Janschka, and Miriam Schapiro.
After receiving his B.A. in 1977, he worked for a year as a precision sheet metal mechanic in a computer factory. Thereafter, he attended the Rinehart School of Sculpture in Baltimore, MD, where he studied with Norman Carlberg and Sal Scarpitta.
After receiving his M.F.A. in 1980, he managed the Rinehart School for a semester before accepting a post-graduate fellowship from the Japanese Ministry of Education. While on fellowship, he studied wood sculpture for two years with Kiichi Sumikawa and Takashi Fukai at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.
Returning to the Washington area in 1983, he taught wood sculpture at the Smithsonian Institution; figurative sculpture and advanced sculpture at both Montgomery College, Rockville, MD, and the University of the District of Columbia; and woodshop at The Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC.
In 2000, he moved to New York City. He executes large-scale commissions and exhibits internationally, and his works are collected in Europe, America, and Japan. He currently maintains studios in New York City and in Lancaster, NH.