Restany was born in Amélie-les-Bains-Palalda, Pyrénées-Orientales, and spent his childhood in Casablanca. On returning to France in 1949 he attended the Lycée Henri-IV before studying at universities in France, Italy and Ireland. From their first meeting in 1955, Restany maintained a strong tie with Yves Klein (to whom is attributed Klein-blue).
Conceptions of New Realism / Nouveau Realisme
In 1960 Pierre Restany created the idea and coined the term Nouveau Réalisme with Yves Klein during a group show in the Apollinaire gallery in Milan. It was an idea that united a group of French and Italian artists. Nouveau Realisme was the European answer to the American Neo-Dada of Fluxus and Pop Art. The group included Martial Raysse, Arman, Yves Klein, François Dufrene, Raymond Hains, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely, Jacques Villeglé - and was later joined by César, Mimmo Rotella, Niki de Saint Phalle and Christo.
Restany defined this group of artists as sharing "new perceptual approaches to reality". The first exhibition of the "Nouveaux réalistes" took place in November 1960 at the Paris Festival d'avant-garde. Their work was an attempt at reassessing the concept of art and the artist in the context of 20th-century consumer society by reasserting humanistic ideals in the face of industrial expansion. In 1961 he co-founded with Jeannine de Goldschmidt the Galerie J in Paris.
In 1963, Restany edited the art and architectural magazine Domus and divided his time between Montparnasse, Paris and Milan, eventually becoming a regular contributor to the magazine until 2003. In 1969 he was one of the curators of the São Paulo Biennial. In the early 1970s he took interest in the work of the Sociological art collective.
In 1976, Pierre Restany curated the French pavilion at the Venice Biennale and organised a group exhibition bringing together the Collectif d'Art Sociologique (Hervé Fischer, Fred Forest and Jean-Paul Thénot), Raymond Hains, Alain Jacquet, Bertrand Lavier, Jean-Pierre Raynaud and Jean-Michel Sanejouand.
In 1982 he co-founded the Domus Academy, the first postgraduate design school in Milan. From the early 1990s up to his death, Restany took a keen and growing interest in artists working in the areas of computer art, new media art, digital art and the World Wide Web. In 1984 he was appointed the editor of the visual art magazine D'Ars. In 1992, he curated the travelling exhibition Art & Tabac (Rome, Vienna and Amsterdam) and in 1994 he co-curated with Robert C. Morgan the exhibition Logo, Non Logo held at Thread Waxing Space in New York City. In 1999 he was nominated President of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.
Restany died in Paris in 2003 and is buried in the Montparnasse Cemetery.
- Mimmo Rotella
- Niki de Saint Phalle
- Yves Klein
- Conceptual art
- Post-conceptual art
- Institutional Critique
- Postmodern art
- Computer art
- Electronic art
- Systems art
- New media art
- Generative art
- Pierre Restany. Manifeste des Nouveaux Réalistes, Editions Dilecta, Paris, 2007.
- Pierre Restany. Voyages de Ginzburg, Editions Julien Blaine, Paris, France, 1980.
- Pierre Restany. La vie este belle, n’est-ce-pas, cher Vostell. Wolf Vostell, Galerie Lavignes Bastille, Paris, 1990.
- Pierre Restany. Bernard Childs, un language de notre temps. Art International, Vol. III, 1959.
- Karen Moller,Technicolor Dreams, Olympia Press, p. 88
- Kristine Stiles & Peter Selz, Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists' Writings (Second Edition, Revised and Expanded by Kristine Stiles) University of California Press 2012, pp. 352-353
- Karl Ruhrberg, Ingo F. Walther, Art of the 20th Century, Taschen, 2000, p518. ISBN 3-8228-5907-9
- "Pierre Restany". Artopos. 1996-08-02.
- "Bertrand et Raymond sont dans un salon". Le Monde.fr (in French). 2016-05-30. Retrieved 2020-11-02.
-  Text about Wolf Vostell
- Kristine Stiles & Peter Selz, Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists' Writings (Second Edition, Revised and Expanded by Kristine Stiles) University of California Press 2012, Pierre Restany texts pp. 352–355