Milan's Il Corriere della Sera newspaper reported that Vergine and her husband, the designer Enzo Mari, were both admitted to the city's San Raffaele hospital. Mari died on 19 October, while Vergine passed on 20 October.
Born in Naples in 1936, Vergine made her name in Milan. A regular contributor to newspapers such as Il Manifesto and Il Corriere della Sera, Vergine became an important voice within performance art with the publication of her 1974 book Body art e storie simili: il corpo come linguaggio (Body art and similar stories: the body as a language).
Vergine was also an influential curator, working with Achille Castiglioni on the 1980 exhibition The Other Half of Avant-garde 1910-1940
In 2016, Vergine published a memoir, L'arte non è faccenda di persona perbene (Art is not the business of a decent person).