Fernando de Szyszlo was born in Lima, Peru. His father was Polish and his mother Peruvian of Spanish-Indian descent. He studied architecture before changing to study Fine Art at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. Between 1948 and 1955 Szyszlo lived in Paris and Florence, gaining knowledge of several European modernist movements and styles before returning to Peru. He was appointed professor of art at Cornell University in 1962 and also taught in Yale University in the mid 1960’s. He was married to the Peruvian poet Blanca Varela who died in 2009. He is still living and working in Lima.