Artist and activist Gustav Metzger's parents were deported to the German-Polish border in late October 1938. In January 1939 Gustav Metzger escaped to Great Britain on a "Kindertransport" (children's transport). From 1941 to 1942 he studied woodwork at O.R.T. Technical College in Leeds and from 1946 attended art courses at the Cambridge School of Art and later in London.
In 1960 he gave his first demonstration of "Auto-destructive Art", a term Metzger first used and explained in his "Manifesto Auto-destructive Art" written in the same year. He is a founder-member of the Committee of 100 and in 1966 Metzger organised the international Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS), which brought Viennese followers of Aktionismus and various artists of the Fluxus movement as well as poets, musicians and psychologists to London. The purpose of the event was to create Auto-destructive Art and discuss its social implications. The first retrospective exhibition of Gustav Metzger's art was organised by the Oxford Museum of Modern Art in 1998.