Born on October 9, 1924, in Trapani, Italy, Carla Accardi trained as a painter at the Accademia di belle arti, Florence, before moving to Rome in 1946. Accardi quickly became part of the inner circle of the Art Club and was a frequent visitor to Pietro Consagra's studio. There she met the artists with whom she would establish the influential postwar group Forma 1: Consagra, Piero Dorazio, Mino Guerrini, Achille Perilli, Antonio Sanfilippo, and Giulio Turcato. The group’s manifesto, which Accardi signed in 1947, called for reconciling Marxist politics with abstract art.
In the 1950s, Accardi was involved in the wide-reaching attempts to revolutionize abstraction through the hybridization of geometric abstraction and gestural painting, both in Italy, where she appeared in Arte astratta e concreta in Italia—1951 at the Galleria nazionale d’arte moderna, Rome, and in France, where art critic Michel Tapié took an interest in her work. After forswearing painting from 1952 to 1953, Accardi began to introduce pseudo-calligraphic signs into abstract images, as in Labirinto a settori, while reducing her palette to white-on-black compositions to explore the relationship between figure and ground.
In 1961 Accardi reintegrated color and began painting on sicofoil, a transparent plastic, instead of canvas. She showcased these new strategies at the 1964 Venice Biennale. By the mid-1960s, she was using these new materials sculpturally. Tenda and Triplice Tenda feature sheets of plastic assembled into a tent and covered with brightly colored brushstroke patterns. This phase of Accardi's oeuvre, which was celebrated in the Ambiente/Arte section of the 1976 Venice Biennale, would prove influential for Arte Povera. In the 1980s she returned to canvas and shifted her focus to the use of signs and chromatic juxtapositions.