Mavignier started studying painting in Rio de Janeiro in 1945; only four years later his first abstract picture emerged. At that time he joined the first group of abstract painters in Brazil. In 1951 Mavignier travelled extensively through Europe. Afterwards he settled in Paris, where he attended the Académie de la Grande Chaumière until 1953. In 1952 he began with concrete painting and was allowed to exhibit at the 'Salon des Réalités Nouvelles' in Paris a year later. The same year, 1953, he moved to Germany, where he studied at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm as a pupil of Max Bill in the department for visual communication until 1958. In 1954 Mavignier met Josef Albers and he painted his first 'Punktbilder', followed by the 'Rasterbilder' in 1955. In these years Mavignier's artistic development was determined by his experimenting: in 1956 optical-art pictures appeared and in 1957 the artist created his first monochrome works. Since 1958 Mavignier collaborated with the artists of the artist group 'Zero', in 1959 he had his own studio in Ulm, where he worked as a freelance graphic designer and painter.
Due to his artistic recognition, Mavignier was asked to participate in several important exhibitions the following years. As a result his works were shown at the exhibition 'Konkrete Kunst' at the Helmhaus in Zurich in 1960; in 1960/61 he was involved in the exhibition 'Nove Tendencije' in Zagreb as a co-organiser. In these years the first so-called 'permutations' arose pictures with mathematically calculated combinations of colour and form. In 1964 Mavignier participated in the Biennale in Venice and the documenta III in Kassel. A year later, in 1965, he was appointed to the Staatliche Hochschule für Künste in Hamburg as a professor for painting. The same year he was involved in the touring exhibition 'The Responsive Eye', which was organised by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1968 Mavignier participated once again in the documenta in Kassel. He had another artistic breakthrough in 1982 with posters which were readable from all sides. In 1985 he received the art-and-design-prize of the Stankowski Stiftung. Recently, his works were shown at the Museu de Arte Moderna in Sao Paulo in 2000 and at the Museum für Konkrete Kunst in Ingolstadt.