Ulay grew up in Solingen and apprenticed as a mechanical engineer from 1958 to 1962. He then trained as a photographer and founded an agency for industrial and architectural photography. In 1968 Ulay moved to Amsterdam, where he was active in the Provo movement. He commuted between Amsterdam and Cologne and attended the Kölner Werkschulen (Cologne Academy of Fine and Applied Arts) in 1969. There he met Jürgen Klauke, among others, and they worked together on the book "Ich & Ich" (1972) and on the performance "Keine Möglichkeit − Zwei Platzwunden" (1975). In 1975 Ulay met Marina Abramović in Amsterdam, with whom he soon entered into a close personal and artistic partnership. In the 1970s and 80s, they exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston (1984), the San Francisco Art Institute (1986), the Musée d'art contemporain in Lyon (1986), the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati (1987) and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1989), among others. From 1984 to 1986 the comprehensive exhibition "Modus Vivendi" travelled through Europe and the USA. Ulay and Abramović are represented at documenta 6 (1977), 7 (1982) and 8 (1987). The end of their campaign "The Lovers − Great Wall Walk" in China in 1988 also marked the end of their artistic and private relationship. From the mid-1990s Ulay's work was shown in numerous solo exhibitions and retrospectives, including at the De Appel Arts Center in Amsterdam (2000), the National Centre for Contemporary Arts in Moscow (2007), the Salon Dahlmann in Berlin (2013), the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam (2016) and the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt in Frankfurt am Main (2016). From 1998 to 2004 Ulay was Professor of Media Art at the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe. He has been awarded the ars viva Prize (1982), the Video Award of the San Sebastián Film Festival (1983) and the Celebration of Lives Award of the Biografilm Festival in Bologna (2014).