Marina Alandra Vaizey was born in New York and attended the Brearley School and the Putney School. She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1959 and went on to study at Girton College, Cambridge University. There she met her future husband, John Vaizey, later Lord Vaizey, an economist. In 1961, the couple married and had three children. She became a renowned art critic for the Financial Times, the Sunday Times, and the Art Quarterly and Review. She has written about 20 books on art, and given art lectures at the National Gallery and British Museum, among others. She served on the Arts Council of England and was a founding trustee of the Geffrye Museum. She has also been a trustee of the Imperial War Museum and the South Bank. She has also been a judge for the Turner Prize.
In 2009, she was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).