Yiorgos Anemoyiannis was born in Heraklion, Crete, on 16th December 1916. One of the theatre's major figures, he was a pioneer in stage design and worked with the leading lights in Greek theatre. His father, a wealthy landowner and merchant from Heraklion, Crete, wanted him to go into commerce, but Yiorgos Anemoyiannis' love in life was art. While still at school his skill set him apart. From a very young age he worked on stage design and construction. On leaving school he went to study in Vienna, but instead of concentrating on commerce or chemistry, as his father had intended, he enrolled concurrently in set design at the Max Reinhardt Theatre School and similar courses at Vienna Polytechnic.
Having earned two degrees, Anemoyiannis returned to Greece in 1939, and immediately set about organising a stage design exhibition in Athens, at a time when the art was unknown in the country. Famous actress Marika Kotopouli instantly recognised his talent and took him on to build sets at the Rex Theatre. The first sets bearing his name were used in 1940, for a Karolos Koun production at the Lyricon Theatre on 3rd September St. This was the first time in Greece that a revolving stage was used to change sets with the curtain up. Anemoyiannis continued to work with Kotopouli for the next fifteen years.
From the mid 1950s he designed sets for revues, producing such impressive work that he came to be regarded as a genius. Having worked for Sophia Vembo, he entered into a permanent collaboration with Vasilis Bournellis at the Acropol, where he lent further new dimensions to the revue. In his 60 year career as a set designer for Greek theatre, Anemoyiannis worked with Karolos Koun, Marika Kotopouli, Alexis Solomos, Takis Mouzenidis, Renato Mordo, Dimtris Mirat, Manos Katrakis, Anna Sinodinou, Elsa Vergi, Melina Mercouri, Elli Lambeti, the Kalouta sisters, Vassils Bournellis, Sperantza Vrana, Alekos Alexandrakis, Nikos Kourkoulos and others, in all manners of genre: comedy, prose, revue, boulevard, drama and even opera, in addition to ancient tragedy. "The thought that comes to mind, looking back over the 500 productions that I have worked on, is that I spent my life on a truly wonderful thing," as he himself says in an interview.
In 1999 he published A Journey Through Light and Dream as a personal gift limited to his own circle of friends, in a non-commercial edition by Papanikolaou press. This is a full colour anthology, in which lucky readers are stunned by the designs and scenery for five hundred performances he created.
One of Yiorgos Anemoyiannis major creations was the Nikos Kazantzakis Museum.
This unique museum dedicated to Kazantzakis the author and thinker was his inspiration, vision and creation. With the moral and material support of Kazantzakis' second wife Eleni, he worked untiringly to his dying day to gather together the manuscripts, editions and memorabilia that made up the raw material for the museum collection. As an experienced though untaught museologist, Anemoyiannis organized and classified an enormous amount of material, which now comprises the museum exhibits. With his unique trained eye, the way in which he organized the exhibits offers visitors a comprehensive picture of the person, writer, traveller, thinker, politician and playwright who was Nikos Kazantzakis. As a staunch supporter of Kazantzakis' work and thought, Anemoyiannis was a founding member and stalwart of the International Society of Friends of Nikos Kazantzakis.
Yiorgos Anemoyiannis died in Athens on 19th October 2005. He was given a state funeral at the Cathedral of St. Minas in Heraklion, and his coffin was borne through the city streets accompanied by the town band, in the highest honour accorded by the Municipality of Heraklion.
In his will, Anemoyiannis donated his invaluable archive to the "Nikos Kazantzakis Museum" Foundation. In his honour, the foundation gave his name to its lecture theatre. Likewise, the Municipality of "Nikos Kazantzakis" named the small square next to the museum after him.