Anjolie Ela Menon was born in 1940 in Burnpur, West Bengal. Menon took up art while still in school and by the time she was fifteen, had already sold a couple of paintings. She joined the J.J. School of Art in Bombay for getting a formal art education but she found the academic atmosphere there stifling and she left her studies unfinished. In 1959, she departed India to study art in Europe on a scholarship from the French government. She also conducted a study tour of France, U.K., and USA.