Vittorio Tavernari was born in Milan on September 28, 1919. The son of an art conservator, Tavernari started his training under Francesco Wildt at the Scuola del Marmo between 1935 and 1938, where he befriended Bruno Cassinari, Umberto Milani, Ennio Morlotti and Ernesto Treccani. While fulfilling military service between 1939 and 1943 he was posted to Varese and Como, where he met Mario Radice and the caffè Ribecchi group: Pietro Lingeri, Manlio Rho, and Giuseppe Terragni. During a sojourn in Como, Tavernari shared a small studio with his friend Morlotti and associated with the Astrattisti. In 1944 he moved permanently to Varese and married Piera Regazzoni. Their house became a popular gathering spot for writers and artists such as Piero Chiara and Renato Guttuso. While living in Varese he kept in close contact with the artistic circles in Milan, becoming one of the founding members of the magazine Numero in 1945, signing the manifesto Oltre Guernica and collaborating with the newspaper L’Ordine Nuovo. His first solo exhibitions took place at the Galleria del Camino in 1948 and Galleria del Milione in 1951, both in Milan.

In 1948 he travelled to France to see the work of Pablo Picasso and in 1949 he was awarded the Città di Varese Sculpture Prize. In 1954 he received another prize at the Esposizione Nazionale d’Arte Figurativa in Spoleto, and a year later he exhibited his works at the Rome Quadriennale. Between 1948 and 1952 he experimented with abstraction before returning to figurative sculpture; his naturalism, however, was permeated by Art Informel aesthetics. In 1960 Tavernari won the Premio Rancati and a year later he had his first solo show in Paris. Also in 1961, he took part in collective exhibitions in Tokyo, Gothenburg, Oslo, Padua, Pittsburgh, Dresden and Bucharest. In 1962 he was awarded the Golden Medal of the President of the Italian Republic at the Esposizione Nazionale di Arte Figurativa, Spoleto. In 1964 Tavernari was admitted as a member of the UNESCO International Association of Art. In successive years his work was exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1964, at the Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea di Milano in 1969, and at an important retrospective at the Musée Rodin, Paris in 1973. In 1974 he was invited to show his work at the Musei Civici di Villa Mirabello, in Varese, and thenceforth he was given several solo exhibitions in other Italian cities, including Rimini, Prato, Turin and Lucca. Tavernari died in Varese on October 29, 1987.