Anthony Gross was a multitalented artist—illustrator, printmaker, filmmaker, and painter. He was born in Dulwich, South London, to a suffragette and a Hungarian map-maker. After a disrupted school career, Gross went to London in 1923, to study at Slade School of Fine Art, where he was taught by the legendary Professor Henry Tonks. From here, he went to the Central School of Arts and Crafts, and exhibited in London at Abbey Gallery, in 1925. Then, moving to Paris in 1926, he went to study at the Académie Julian and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. However, he left Paris during this period to attend the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid. This was followed by trips to the continent and to North Africa.
In 1930, Gross settled once more in Paris, where he married the fashion illustrator Marcelle Marguerite Florenty. It was in Paris that he begun to make animated films, between 1931 and 1939, most notably, La Joie de Vivre (purchased by MoMA, New York). He began to depict factory life on the Left Bank, the movement that filtered through all of his work made visible in strong, controlled lines. These became the Sortie d’Usine and La Zone series. During this time, he drew for magazines, and designed the set and costumes for the avant-garde ballet, Chauve-Souris. He also became a member of the printmaking society La Jeune Gravure Contemporaine, in 1929. In 1925, he met fellow printmaker Stanley William Hayter, with whom he became lifelong friends, both practising etching under Joseph Hecht. In 1936 he produced illustrations for Les Enfants Terribles, during a three–year hiatus in England, one of many books that he illustrated.
The outbreak of war saw Gross become an official war artist in 1941, painting the ‘Convoy’ series in 1942, travelling to the Middle East, Asia, France, and Germany. The resultant pictures were exhibited in 1946 at the Tate and Jeu de Paume, Paris. He also began to work seriously with pen and ink. After the war, he depicted the industrial North of England, as well as the commune of Saint-Matré, in the Lot. He initially moved back to London full-time, then divided his time between there and Le Boulvé in the mid-1950s. He commenced teaching, first at the Central School of Arts and Crafts (1938-54), then at the Slade (1955-71), where he was the Head of the Etching and Engraving Department. During this period, he was a member of the London Group. In 1965 he became the first President of the Print Makers Council, and in 1981, a Senior Royal Academician. He received an OBE in 1982. He was granted many more accolades and was highly thought of and regarded, in part due to his polymath approach to creativity, as well as his prolific output. His work was vital and busy, playing with a density of line and different textures that he could achieve through printmaking processes. Although his work is stylised, it is almost more hyper-real than in any way abstract. His depictions are often of ordinary people—whom he satirises, but not unkindly—and of a dense, fecund nature.
Anthony Gross' estate is represented by the Redfern Gallery.