Born in 1943 in Pécs, Hungary, he attended the city’s School of Art under Ferenc Lantos between 1958 and 1962, later graduating with a degree in Geography and Art from the Janus Pannonius Teacher Training College in 1969. Together with Kálmán Szíjártó, Sándor Pinczehelyi and Ferenc Ficzek, he was one of the founders of the Pécs Workshop art group. He made land-art projects with Kálmán Szíjártó that were experiments connected with changes in nature and deserted industrial zones. He documented the local environment through concept-photographs, performances and animations. From 1979, he started to work as an animation film director at Pannonia Filmstudio.
In 1987 he received Mary Kuttna Award at the London Film Festival. Károly Kismányoki’s works have been exhibited in numerous group shows in Hungary and around the world, including the Vinyl Factory Soho in London (2018), Elizabeth Dee Gallery in New York (2017), Neuer Kunstverein in Vienna (2016) and Galeria Sztuki Najnowszej in Wrocław (1976). His work is also found in the collection of MoMa in New York. He died in his native city of Pécs in 2018 at the age of 74.