Carola Welcker was born in Cologne in 1893 as the daughter of the banker Carl Welcker (1848-1928) and his American wife Mary Legien (1865-1919). She studied art history in Munich with Heinrich Wölfflin and with Paul Clemen in Bonn, where she received her doctorate in 1922. During her studies, she met the Swiss colleague Sigfried Giedion, whom she married in 1919. In 1923 the couple met László Moholy-Nagy, who introduced them to Hans Arp a year later. Arp imparted her knowledge of the literature of Lautréamont, Rimbaud, and Jarry and led her to the 1925 Surrealists exhibition in Paris. Through Arp she met Piet Mondrian and Constantin Brâncu?i, whom she visited in his studio in 1928 and later wrote a monograph on him.
In 1925 the Giedion couple moved to Zurich. Her home became a meeting point for modern artists such as Hans Arp, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Kurt Schwitters and Max Ernst. Irish writer James Joyce was also one of her guests. Giedion-Welcker met Paul Klee in Bern personally knew and wrote a biography of him. A year before her death (1946), Paul Klee's widow Lily Klee-Stumpf had in her will the care of her husband's artistic estate through a commission that was carried out next to her son Felix Carola Giedion-Welcker and the Bern collectors Werner Allenbach, Rolf Bürgi, Hans Meyer-Benteli and Hermann Rupf should also belong.
Giedion-Welcker published about 280 articles in magazines on modern painting, sculpture and poetry and wrote 17 books, including Moderne Plastik, Poètes à l'Écart and the anthology Schriften 1926-1971, published in 1973 by Reinhold Hohl.
In 2007 the Kunsthaus Zurich dedicated an exhibition curated by Cathérine Hug to Carola Giedion-Welcker. It showed how the artist from Zurich, as an art historian, author, and curator, shaped the cultural life of the city and influenced the art house's purchasing policy. About 40 works from painting, sculpture and graphics, photos and letters formed the exhibits of the exhibition.