Marioni was born in 1937 in Cincinnati, Ohio, attended the Cincinnati Art Academy, and in 1959 moved to San Francisco where he still lives. His first sound work, One Second Sculpture (1969) was celebrated in the 2005 Lyon Biennial as presaging the work of many artists today who use sound and duration as subjects. His first museum show was in 1970 at the Oakland Museum of California. Titled The Act of Drinking Beer with Friends Is the Highest Form of Art, it was an early example of social activity as art. Over the years, Marioni has been invited to repeat the work in various contexts around the world.
Marioni was included in important sound art shows: For Eyes and Ears (1980) at the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin, Live to Air (1982) at the Tate Gallery in London, and From Sound to Image (1985) at the Stuttgart Staatsgalerie in Germany. His work was shown in Out of Actions: Between Performance and the Object in 1998, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Drawing is central to Marioni’s art, and in 1999 he had a drawing retrospective at the Mills College Art Museum in Oakland. His prints have been published by Crown Point Press since 1974. In 2006 the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati presented a survey exhibition of his work since 1968. Marioni was included in The Art of Participation: 1950 to Now, in 2008 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989 in 2009 at the Guggenheim Museum, New York. His work is in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Stadtische Kunsthalle in Mannheim, Germany, and other museums. He is represented by Anglim Gilbert Gallery in San Francisco and Margarete Roeder Gallery in New York.