Erwin von Kreibig grew up among the artistic circles in the district of Schwabing in Munich. In 1917, Erwin von Kreibig began an apprenticeship as a woodcarver at the Munich School of Arts and Crafts. After finishing in 1919, he trained as a metal sculptor and in chisel work under Eugen Ehrenbock. In 1921, von Kreibig was employed at the School of Arts and Crafts by Richard Riemerschmid, where he designed costumes. In 1922, he made a name for himself both as a painter and for his socially critical caricature drawings. In 1922 and 1923 he was a guest of the New Secession in exhibitions in the Glaspalast. Von Kreibig had his breakthrough as an artist in 1930 at the opening of a large exhibition in the gallery of the association called Die Juryfreien, which featured over a hundred of his works. A scholarship from the city of Munich enabled him to visit Paris in 1932, where he rented a studio in Montparnasse.
When von Kreibig returned to Munich in late 1933, he soon realised the impact of the Nazis’ cultural policies, and so emigrated to Ibiza in 1934. When the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, he had to flee to Mallorca in a German submarine, and then returned to Munich. After his return, he found that his paintings in the city gallery in the Lenbachhaus were to be destroyed as part of “cleansing actions” against “degenerate” art, and that he was himself now considered a “degenerate” artist. Employees at the gallery saved his paintings. Von Kreibig went to live in Sanremo in Italy, where he stayed until 1952, after which he returned to Munich.