Born in Arezzo from Teresa Negro and Pietro Fossati, he moved with the family to Turin where he finished his high school. He started studying law and ended getting a degree in Romance philological studies and literature at the University of Turin with Prof. Avalle. He started working as the art critic for the Italian newspaper "L'Unità" in 1965, married Eva Menzio, the daughter of painter Francesco Menzio and had his first son Filippo. One year later, right after the birth of his daughter Caterina, he started working for the publisher Giulio Einaudi as senior editor where he worked until he died. During his years at Einaudi publisher, he collaborated with many important intellectuals such as Primo Levi, Natalia Ginzburg, Italo Calvino, Leonardo Sciascia, Ernst Gombrich, Federico Zeri, Cesare Brandi among many others. He was the creator and curator (with Giulio Bollati) of the encyclopedic enterprise of the Storia dell'Arte (History of Art in Italy). Was also the creator and curator of the series of books Einaudi Letteratura, which included personalities such as Ugo Mulas, Samuel Beckett, Walter Benjamin, George Bataille, Alberto Savinio, Claude Simon, Carlo Emilio Gadda, Man Ray, Fausto Melotti, Francesco Lo Savio, Giulio Paolini, Bruno Munari, Giuseppe Penone, Lucio Fontana, Luigi Veronesi, Alberto Burri, Luciano Fabro among others. He wrote essays and catalogues collaborating with artists and architects such as Giorgio Morandi, Alighiero Boetti, Mario Merz, Carol Rama, Pirro Cuniberti, Alberto Burri, Bruno Martinazzi, Piero Manai, Marco Gastini, Vittorio Gregotti, Achille Castiglioni, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Renzo Piano, Ettore Sottsass, among many others. He taught Social History of Art and Art Criticism at the Universities of Bologna, Pisa, Venice and Turin and wrote extensively all his life.
Among the many books, essays and articles that he wrote include : L'immagine sospesa. Pittura e scultura astratte in Italia (1934–40) (1971), Design in Italia (1972), La realtá attrezzata. Scena e spettacolo dei futuristi (1977), Valori Plastici, 1918-1922 (1981), La pittura metafisica (1988), Storie di figure e di immagini: da Boccioni a Licini (1995) and the last book Autoritratti, specchi e palestre (1998).
He died in Turin on October 26, 1998.
- Paolo Fossati at the archINFORM database