He was born in Homs, Libya, in 1934. Considered by many to be the leading exponent of Italian pop art, he was considered the heir of Andy Warhol.
Many of his works, the so-called "monochromes", have only one or two colors, applied on wrapping paper pasted on canvas; Jasper Johns' influence was manifested in the use of numbers or isolated letters of the alphabet, but in Schifano's way of painting similarities can be traced with the work of Robert Rauschenberg. In a painting from 1960 you can read the word "no" painted with drips of color in large capital letters, as in a mural graffiti.
Even today the works created in the sixties remain incredibly topical. Among the most important, we should remember the series dedicated to advertising brands (Coca-Cola and Esso in primis), to bicycles, to flowers (tributes to Andy Warhol) and to nature in general (among the most famous series we find the Anemic Landscapes, the Interrupted Views, The Tree of Life, Extinct and the Wheat Fields.
Passionate student of new painting techniques, he was among the first to use the computer to create works, and was able to process images from the computer and report them on emulsified canvases.
Among the first to experiment with grafts between painting and other forms of art such as music, cinema, video, photography, the last period of Schifano's production is particularly marked by media and multimedia, interrupted only by some more purely "pictorial" cycles , in a phase of full awareness of his role as an artist-man of his time.
Close to pop culture and the beat musical environment, along the lines of Andy Warhol who had discovered and produced the Velvet Underground, he collaborated with a band, Le Stelle by Mario Schifano, which recorded an album at the end of 1967, with a cover designed by himself; he also designed covers for other Italian groups, such as Equipe 84.
In 1971 he made a documentary film entitled Human non-human, in which several prominent figures took part including Adriano Aprà, Carmelo Bene, Mick Jagger, Alberto Moravia, Sandro Penna, Rada Rassimov, Keith Richards.
Passionate about cycling, he has designed the pink jersey twice.
He died in 1998 in Rome, after a life of excesses and recklessness.