Gerd Arntz (1900-1988)
Already as a young man, born in a German family of traders and manufacturers, Gerd Arntz was a socially inspired and politically committed artist. In Düsseldorf, where he lived since his nineteenth, he joined a movement which wanted to turn Germany into a ‘soviet-’ or ‘council republic’, a radically socialist state form based on direct popular democracy. As a revolutionary artist, Arntz was connected to the Cologne based ‘progressive artists group’ (Gruppe progressiver Künstler Köln) and depicted the life of workers and the class struggle in abstracted figures on woodcuts. Published in leftist magazines, his work was noticed by Otto Neurath, a social scientist and founder of the Museum of Society and Economy (Gesellschafts- und Wirtschaftsmuseum) in Vienna, Austria. Neurath had developed a method to communicate complex information on society, economy and politics in simple images. For his ‘Vienna method of visual statistics’, he needed a designer who could make elementary signs, pictograms that could summarize a subject at a glance.