Ernesto Piccolo was born in Zagarise, near Catanzaro, in 1936. At a very young age he moved with his family to Florence, where he studied at the Institute of Art and later at the Academy of Fine Arts.
He began to exhibit in the 1960s. In the same period, he met the poet Mario Luzi, who became a lifelong friend and collaborator. He was part of the literary Gabinetto Vieusseux circle, where he made the acquaintance of various intellectuals of the time, including Alessandro Bonsanti, Ugo Capocchini, Federici, Alberto Batocchi and Giampiero Giamperi. This exchange of ideas contributed greatly to shaping his pictorial language. In 1975, he exhibited his series Suggestioni (Impressions), inspired by Luzi’s poetry, at the Gabinetto Vieusseux. He also held the chair of printmaking techniques at the Academies of Fine Arts in Palermo, Venice and Florence.
His artwork has been discussed by various art critics of renown. Among his most recent, important solo exhibitions are the retrospective Una grande avventura lirica e umana (A Great Lyrical and Human Adventure) at Palazzo Piccolomini in Pienza (2002), I luoghi della mente tra luce e colore (Places of the Mind Between Light and Colour) at the Academy of Arts and Drawing in Florence (2010), and, again in Florence, La poetica del colore e della forma (The Poetics of Colour and Form) at Palazzo Medici Riccardi (2013) and Compenetrazioni cromatiche (Chromatic Interpenetrations) at Palazzo Panciatichi (2016). Piccolo lives and works in Florence.