Anna Prinner’s father worked as a chief accounting officer. She had three brothers. In 1920, she enrolled in the School of Fine Arts in Budapest where people called her “the strange one.” In 1926, two of her paintings were exhibited by mistake at the Fine Arts Museum and were a success. She left Hungary, where she never returned, and arrived in Paris in 1927. She still went by the name Anna and had long hair. In France, she adopted a masculine identity. She went by the name Anton, dressed as a man and smoked a pipe. She stopped her artistic activity and devoted herself to the study of occult sciences, esoteric doctrines, and mystical philosophies. Prinner earned her living by doing small jobs; she worked as a caricaturist in nightclubs with her friend the painter Arpad Szenes. In the 1930s, she studied engraving in the studio of Stanley William Hayter. She produced bas-reliefs as well as high reliefs and learned the techniques of sculpture.
Her first two solo exhibitions were organized by Jeanne Bucher in 1942 and by Pierre Loeb in 1945. During the Occupation, she created ink drawings. She hid the painter Alexandre Heimovits and his child at her studio. Following the war, she spent time at Le Select with other artists, such as the sculptor Czaky. She also knew the Loeb brothers and Picasso, who called her “little green woodpecker” or “Monsieur Madame.”
In 1946, the painter and photographer Emile Savitry did a report on Anton Prinner at her studio in rue Pernety. From 1947 to 1949, she illustrated the Book of the Dead of the Ancient Egyptians for the publisher J. Godet. She developed a passion for Egyptian civilization and produced a series of bas-reliefs on this theme.
In 1950, she settled at the Tapis Vert in Vallauris against her friends’ advice. She learned ceramics. After being exploited by the studio’s owner and plundered by others, she gave up sculpture for painting. In her biography, she wrote “I want to make things that people do not like so that they will not steal from me.”
Capitale des arts, le Paris des années 1905-1939 attire les artistes du monde entier. De cette période de foisonnement, un terme est resté, celui d'Ecole de Paris, qui recouvre une grande diversité d'expression artistique. Dans ce brassage dont Montparnasse est le creuset, un groupe se distingue : celui des artistes juifs venus de Russie, de Pologne et d'Europe centrale. Si leurs styles sont variés, un destin commun les rassemble : ils fuient l'antisémitisme de leur pays d'origine. Certains ont connu la célébrité dès les années 1920, tels Soutine, Lipchitz ou Chagall. D'autres n'ont pas eu le temps ou la chance d'y accéder. Près de la moitié a péri dans les camps de concentration nazis.
From 1905 to 1939, Paris attracted artists from all over the globe as the capital of the art world. This period of artistic proliferation became known as the School of Paris, and includes a great diversity of artistic expression. Within the teeming art world centred on Montparnasse, one group set itself apart: Jewish artists from Russia, Poland, and Central Europe. Although their styles were diverse, they shared the common fate of fleeing anti-Semitic persecutions in their home countries. Some became famous in the 1920s, such as Soutine, Lipchitz, and Chagall, while others did not have the time or the luck to gain renown. Nearly half of these artists died in Nazi concentration camps.