As a boy, Sandro Chia played soccer in the Piazzo Santo Spirito, after which he would stray into nearby cathedrals where he found himself captivated by the work of Filippino Lippi or Masaccio. Chia's father encouraged this interest by promoting family excursions on Sunday afternoons to the Uffizi Gallery, and by the time Chia was a teenager, he had decided to be an artist.
In 1962 Chia began studies at the Istituto d'Arte in Florence, which offered a traditional program that gave him a solid grounding in conventional methods and materials. He studied etching there with Rodolfo Margheri. His education took an abrupt turn in 1967, when he enrolled at the Accademia di Belle Arti, where, for the next few years he was exposed to a progressive philosophy of making art that was intellectual and political in orientation.
After graduating from the Accademia in 1969, Chia traveled to India, and on his return he took an apartment in Rome. During the early 1970s he was involved with installations and process-oriented art, his first one-man show being an installation at the Galleria La Salita, Rome, in 1971. Increasingly dissatisfied with this approach, Chia took up painting again in the mid-1970s. His work was first shown in the United States in 1980, in a three-person exhibition with Francesco Clemente and Enzo Cucci at the Sperone-Westwater-Fischer Gallery in New York. That same year he established a studio in New York City.
In addition to Graphicstudio, Chia has worked with such workshops and printers as Stamperia d'Arte Grafica/Studio S. Reparta in Florence, as well as Patricia Branstead at Aeropress, and Francesco Copello, Felix Harlan, and Carol Weaver in New York. In 1980 Chia was awarded a fellowship to work in Mönchengladbach, Germany. In 1985 he completed a major sculpture commission installed in the public square in Bielefeld, Germany.
Chia has had numerous exhibitions in Europe, the United States, and Japan including those at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1983), Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover (1983), Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, Germany (1983), Staatlich Kunsthalle, Berlin (1984), Musée d'art modern de la ville de Paris (1984), Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf (1984), Akira Ikeda Gallery, Tokyo (1984, 1986, 1990), Kunsthalle Bielefeld (1986), and Museum Modernerkunst, Salzburg (1989). An exhibition of Chia's prints was held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 1984. (Fine/Corlett 1991, 261)