Yaacov Agam was born Yaakov Gibstein in Rishon LeZion, then Mandate Palestine. His father, Yehoshua Gibstein, was a rabbi and a kabbalist. Agam trained at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, before moving to Zürich, Switzerland in 1949, where he studied under Johannes Itten (1888–1967) at the Kunstgewerbe Schule, and was also influenced by the painter and sculptor Max Bill (1908–1994). In 1951 Agam went to Paris, France, where he still lives. He has a daughter and two sons, one of whom is the photographer Ron Agam.