Massimo Campigli was born in Berlin on July 4, 1895. In 1909 he moved to Milan, where he met the Futurists. After military service Campigli moved to Paris in 1919, where he worked for nine years as a journalist for the Corriere della Sera and also began painting. His first solo show was held in 1923 at the Galleria Bragaglia in Rome. He was initially drawn to Purism, Fernand Léger, Pablo Picasso's neoclassical works and Metaphysical painting. He became profoundly influenced by antique art in 1928 after seeing the Etruscan collection in Villa Giulia in Rome. His love of antique and abstract forms led him to search for sources in Cretan, Pompeian, and Coptic as well as Etruscan art. In 1929, Campigli’s formed the Sette italiani di Parigi group together with Giorgio de Chirico, Gino Severini and others. The same year his works were exhibited in his first solo show in Paris, at the Galerie Jeanne Bucher.

During the 1930s, Campigli settled once again in Milan where, in 1933, toghether with de Chirico, Achille Funi, and Mario Sironi he executed murals—now sadly lost—at the Palazzo dell’Arte; this was the first of several mural projects. He showed in 1931, 1935, and 1939 at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York, and travelled there in 1935 and 1939. After another extended stay in Paris, Campigli returned once more to Italy, where he lived in Venice and Milan during World War II .

His first solo exhibition in a museum was held at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 1946. In 1958, 1960, and 1962 he participated in the Venice Biennale. In 1948, Campigli illustrated numerous books, including Marco Polo’s Il Milione, 1942, and André Gide’s Thesée, 1948, and wrote several autobiographical-critical essays. After 1949 Campigli divided his time between Paris, Milan, Rome and St. Tropez. Many solo shows of his work where held at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, and the Kunsthalle in Bern in 1955, and at Palazzo Reale in Milan, in 1967. Massimo Campigli died in St. Tropez on May 31, 1971.