Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1922, Tomas Maldonado attended the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes. In the early 40s, together with Jorge Brito, Alfredo Hlito, and Claudio Girola, he signed a manifesto rejecting the selection carried out at the Salón Nacional, quoting the Italian Carlo Carrà statement: ‘The suppression of imbeciles in art is essential’.
He collaborated in the publication of Arturo magazine (1944). One of his engravings illustrates its cover. By the end of 1945, he founded the Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención together with Raul Lozza, Alfredo Hito, Manuel Espinosa, Lidy Prati, Antonio Caraduje, Enio Iommi, Jorge Souza, Alberto Molenberg, Simón Contreras, Oscar Núñez, Rembrandt Van Dyck Lozza, Rafael Lozza, and Primaldo Monaco. With his brother Edgar Bayley, he wrote the Inventionist Manifesto, published for the first exhibition of the Asociación, in March 1946. This Manifesto reappeared in the Arte Concreto-Invención magazine, first issued in August. It included, as well as the second issue (December), several articles by Maldonado on his reflections about Concretism.
Two years later he travelled to Europe where he met Max Bill and Georges Vantongerloo.
In 1951, he took part with Alfredo Hlito in the organization of Nueva Visión magazine. His ideas drove him steadily away from ‘fine arts’ towards design, and by mid-50s, he abandoned painting definitively.
In 1954, he travelled to Europe invited by Max Bill to teach in the Hochschule für Gestaltung, in Ulm, Germany. He stayed in that city until 1967, acting as Director of the School.
Between 1967 and 1969, he presided the Executive Committee of the International Council of Industrial Design Societies. In 1971 he was appointed Professor of Environmental Planning at the University of Bologna, Italy.
Among his abundant theoretical production, the texts written from 1946 to 1974 stand out, compiled in Vanguardia y Racionalidad. Artículos, ensayos y otros escritos (Vanguard and Rationality, Articles, Essays and Other Writings), and in Escritos preulmianos (Pre-Ulmian Writings).
In 1984 he visited Argentina where he promoted the creation of the Graphic Design and Industrial Design careers in the College of Architecture and Urbanism of the University of Buenos Aires.
By mid-80s he was appointed Honorary Professor of the University of Buenos Aires, and between 1992 and 1997 he worked as Consultant Professor and Director of the Department of Industrial Design of the Polytechnic School of Milan.
His works formed part of the main exhibitions of the group, among which the Homenaje a la vanguardia argentina de la década del 40 (A Tribute to the Argentine Vanguard of the ‘40s), at the Galería Arte Nuevo (1976) stands out, as well as Vanguardias de la década del ’40. Arte Concreto-Invención. Arte Madí. Perceptismo at the Eduardo Sivori Museum (1980); Argentina, Concrete Art Invention 1945, Madí Group 1946 at the Rachel Adler Gallery, New York (1990), and recently, Abstract Art from the Rio de la Plata, Buenos Aires and Montevideo 1933/53 exhibition at The Americas Society of New York (2001).
At present he lives and works in Italy.