Anthony Gross was one of the most outstanding, innovative and prolific British print-makers of the 20th Century. His graphic oeuvre alone consists of some 400 editioned prints made between 1920 and 1984. He was also a highly accomplished painter, book illustrator and animated filmmaker. From 1941 to 1945 Gross served as a British official war artist. His experiences ranged from the London Blitz to fighting theatres in the Middle East, North Africa and Burma. In 1944 he returned to Britain where he captured the build-up of preparations for D-Day, completing group portraits in pen and ink of British and American soldiers assembled for this monumental operation. He sailed with the attacking troops on D-Day and waded ashore at Arromanches holding his artist’s materials aloft.
Gross was born in London in 1905 to a Hungarian cartographer father and Irish/Italian suffragette mother. Gross’s parents separated in 1922 after his father’s mapmaking business went bankrupt and he emigrated to the USA. His mother stayed in London with her new partner, the American painter Alfred Everett Orr who encouraged Anthony in his ambition to become a painter.
As a young man Gross travelled extensively in Europe and North Africa. Throughout the 1920s he studied at various art schools in London, Paris and Madrid. In the late 20s he developed a close working association with the leading engravers S W Hayter and Joseph Hecht.
In 1930 Gross married the French fashion artist Marcelle Marguérite (Daisy) Florenty and moved into her Paris studio in the Hameau-Boileau. Daisy introduced him to her Russian émigré friends including Ossip Zadkine, Yuri Annenkoff, Natalia Goncharova and Boris Souvarine.
In 1933 Gross was elected a member of La Jeune Gravure Contemporaine and continued to exhibit with the society for the rest of his life. During the thirties he became involved in numerous creative projects including designing costumes and settings for ballet and book illustration. In 1934 Gross and Hector Hoppin co-directed one of the first animated films – La Joie de Vivre. The considerable success of the film took him back to London where Alexander Korda appointed him Art Director for London Films. In 1937, disillusioned with the film business, he returned with his family to Paris where the Gross’s lived until evacuation in 1940.
After the War he spent his time between London and the South West of France near Cahors where he and his wife had bought a house. He taught printmaking at the Slade School of Art between 1954 and 1971. In 1965 he was elected first President of the Print-Makers’ Council and between 1965-66 he was Visiting Professor at the Minneapolis School of Art. In 1968 The Victoria & Albert Museum in London mounted an retrospective exhibition The Graphic Work of Anthony Gross 1921-68. Anthony Gross died at home in France in 1984, two days after working on a new print.