Born in Bucharest the son of a Jewish tailor, he spoke Yiddish, Romanian, German, and French. During 1938, he traveled frequently to Paris where he was introduced to the Surrealist circles. World War II and the official antisemitism in Romania forced him into local exile. During the short pre-Communist period of Romanian independence, he founded a Surrealist artists group, together with Gellu Naum, Paul Păun, Virgil Teodorescu and Dolfi Trost.
His first publications, including poems in French followed. He was the inventor of cubomania and, with Dolfi Trost, the author of the statement "Dialetic of Dialectic" in 1945. Harassed in Romania and caught while trying to flee the country, the self-called étran-juif ("StranJew") finally left Romania in 1952, and moved to Paris through Israel.
There he worked among others with Jean Arp, Paul Celan, François Di Dio and Max Ernst, producing numerous collages, drawings, objects, and text-installations. From 1967, his reading sessions took him to places like Stockholm, Oslo, Geneva, New York City, and San Francisco.
In 1994, he was expelled from his apartment officially for "hygiene reasons." Luca had spent forty years in France without papers and could not cope. On February 9, at the age of 80, he committed suicide by jumping into the Seine.
Gherasim Luca, Passionnément (music by Colleen, as heard on Atelier de Création Radiophonique on France Culture, 2005)