Antonio "Toti" Scialoja was born in Rome on December 16, 1914. In the late 1930s he joined the artistic and literary circles of the Galleria La Cometa. In 1937, Scialoja gave up his law studies and devoted himself entirely to painting. During this period he produced his first Expressionist paintings, in which his use of thick, textural brushstrokes was clearly influenced by French painting, in particular Chaim Soutine. In 1939 he exhibited at the 3rd Rome Quadriennale and in 1941 he had a solo exhibition at the Società Amici dell’Arte in Turin. The following year he took part in a group show at the Galleria Lo Zodiaco in Rome, along with Leoncillo Leonardi, Giulio Turcato, and Emilio Vedova. He was actively involved in the Italian resistance movement, and worked for the theater, designing his first stage sets in 1943.

At the end of the war, along with fellow artists Arnoldo Ciarrocchi, Piero Sadun, and Giovanni Stradone, he founded a group known as “I quattro fuori strada.” During the late 1940s he went to Paris, where he came in contact with the European art scene; this environment strongly affected his study of tonality and Neo-Cubism. In the 1950s Scialoja gradually broke free from Expressionism, turning to Analytical Cubism and then to abstraction. His contacts with the Gruppo Origine, who were against the decorative aspects of abstract art, together with his trip to the United States in 1956, where he met the leading figures of American Abstract Expressionism, pushed the artist to thoroughly explore color, texture, and gestural painting.

In 1957 he create his first Impronte series, in which traces of color are printed from one surface onto the other, and onto diverse materials ranging from paper to canvas. During this period, Scialoja took part in important national and international shows. in 1960 he moved first to New York and then from 1961 to 1963 to Paris. Back in Italy in 1964, he exhibited at the Venice Biennale. His artistic production ceased for a prolonged period during the 1970s, and he only resumed painting in 1983. Scialoja was also a poet, writer, and set designer. He taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome and served as its director for many years. He died in Rome on March 1, 1998.