Gray was a fellow student and friend of artist-designer Graham Sutherland at Goldsmiths College School of Art, London University, where he studied painting and design. He served in the Royal Engineers during WWI when he was involved in camouflage work like other famous artists and designers from both wars.
Aestheticism describes the European art movement of the late 19th century. It is centred on the doctrine that art exists alone for the sake of its beauty and that it does not have to serve any political, didactic or another purpose.
Aestheticism is diametrically opposite to the moralist belief, the belief that moralism (and everything else) should be the handmaiden of art instead of art (and everything else) being the handmaiden of morality.