His departure from traditional exhibition format might come from his lack of formal training at art school. He studied political economy and dance at Humboldt University in Berlin and later danced with companies headed by French experimental choreographers Jerome Bel and Xavier Le Roy. He once said that he wants dance to be as serious as art instead of always being connected to theater and film.
His first piece, Instead of Allowing Something to Rise Up to Your Face, Dancing Bruce and Dan and Other Things in 2000, drew heavily from his dance background. It features a single dancer writhing on the floor and incorporating poses from videos by artists Dan Graham and Bruce Nauman.
In 2007, his work Kiss, which saw a couple continuously enact a sequence of specific kisses from famous works of art, was exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, his first work in an American museum.
As a phenomenon in art circles, Sehgal was the youngest person ever to represent Germany in the Venice Biennale in 2005, and he won the Golden Lion award at the 2013 Venice Biennale. He has also been selected as one of four finalists for the Turner Prize; the winner will be announced in December.