Gerd Arntz was a German Modernist artist renowned for his black and white woodcuts. A core member of the Cologne Progressives he was also a council communist. The Cologne Progressives participated in the revolutionary unions AAUD (KAPD) and its offshoot the AAUE in the 1920s. In 1928 Arntz contributed prints to the AAUE paper Die Proletarische Revolution, calling for workers to abandon parliament and form and participate in worker's councils. These woodcut prints feature recurring themes of class.
Born into a family of merchants, Arntz was educated at a private academy in Düsseldorf and later attended the school of applied arts in Barmen (1921). He acquired the Düsseldorf studio of Otto Dix in 1925, when Dix moved to Berlin. Arntz travelled widely through Europe, and lived in Vienna, Cologne, and Moscow among other cities. Arntz was a core member of the Cologne Progressive Artists Group. From 1926 Otto Neurath sought his collaboration in designing pictograms for the Vienna Method of Pictorial Statistics (Wiener Methode der Bildstatistik; later renamed Isotype).
From the beginning of 1929 Arntz worked at the Gesellschafts- und Wirtschaftsmuseum (Social and economic museum) directed by Neurath in Vienna. Eventually, Arntz designed around 4000 pictograms. Between 1931 and 1934 he travelled periodically to the Soviet Union (along with Neurath and Marie Reidemeister) in order to help set up the 'All-union institute of pictorial statistics of Soviet construction and economy' (Всесоюзный институт изобразительной статистики советского строительства и хозяйства), commonly abbreviated to IZOSTAT (ИЗОСТАТ). After the brief civil war in Austria in 1934 he emigrated to the Netherlands, joining Neurath and Reidemeister in The Hague, where they continued their collaboration at the International Foundation for Visual Education. Arntz cultivated a wide acquaintance among the artists and political activists of his generation. In 1943, while living in The Hague, he was conscripted into German military service and later was a prisoner of war.