Sundaram was born in Simla, Himachal Pradesh. He was educated at The Doon School, the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University, Baroda, and at Slade School of London.. Sundaram is a painter, sculptor, installator and a key figure in a group of contemporary artists, who have, over the last decade, moved away from the enterprise of easel painting. In London he met the British-American painter R. B. Kitaj under whom he trained. He held his first solo exhibition in New Delhi in 1966 and has had several solo and group exhibitions in India and abroad since. His group shows include 'Six Who Declined To Show in the Triennale', New Delhi, 1978; 'Place for People', Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai in 1981; Contemporary Indian Art, Festival of India, London in 1982; the Second and Fourth Biennale, Havana 1987 & 1991; 'A Critical Difference: Contemporary Art from India', UK in 1993; Rivers cape, the Second Asia-Pacific Triennale of Contemporary Art, Brisbane,1996. He was part of Four International Artist Residencies, Cleveland, UK, 1993. Vivan Sundaram lives and works in New Delhi, where he is a Visiting Professor at the Jamia Milia Islamia University.