Josef Herman Early Life
Josef Herman was born in Warsaw, Poland in January 1911, the eldest of three children in a poor Jewish family. At the age of 12 he became an apprentice printer and then an artist.
Between 1930 and 1932 he attended the Warsaw School of Art and exhibited for the first time in Warsaw in 1932.
In 1938 he fled his Poland for Belgium due to the mounting anti-Semitism, and in advance of the Germany invasion and outbreak of WWII. Herman made it to the UK via France and arrived in Scotland settling in Glasgow in 1940. This he made home for four years along with a number of other refugee artists such as Jankel Adler.
Though Herman escaped the Nazi invasion and subsequent atrocities, he lost his entire family in the Holocaust.
Josef Herman in the UK
In 1944 he visited Ystradgynlais in the Swansea Valley for a holiday, and made it his home until 1955. He was later quoted as saying: “I stayed here because I found all I required. I arrived here a stranger for a fortnight; the fortnight became 11 years.”
Here Herman found a source of inspiration from the Welsh mining community. Miners and people working the land in their workplace is imagery for which he is still best known.
In 1951 he won a important commission to produce a mural for the Festival of Britain. This was to firmly establish his reputation as a major UK artist and one of the greats of the 20C.
Looking for fresh inspiration he moved in 1955 to Suffolk with his partner, Nini Ettlinger. They married in 1961 and moved to London in 1972, where Herman would remain until his death.
In 1981 he was awarded an OBE for services to British Art and was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts a year later. He died in February 2000.
External links and other information
Herman has 70 paintings in public collections and these can be found here
If you own paintings by Josef Herman that you would like to sell please do contact us. We are also interested in acquiring Exhibition Catalogues from the 1940’s onward.