Artist biography

Josef HERMAN b. 1911

Figure painter and draughtsman; his subjects, treated in sombre tones, are taken mainly from miners and field labourers. Born 3 January 1911 in Warsaw, son of a Jewish cobbler. Studied at the Warsaw School of Art 1930–2. First exhibited in Warsaw 1932. Organized with Siegmunt Bobovsky the ‘Phrygian Bonnet’, a group of young painters with Expressionist tendencies, 1935. Left Poland for Brussels 1938; was influenced by Permeke and worked in the Borinage. Settled in Glasgow 1940; met Jankel Adler, another refugee, and painted for the first two years nostalgic reminiscences of his childhood. Came to London with his Scottish wife and had an exhibition at the Lefevre Gallery with L. S. Lowry 1943. Settled in the Welsh mining village of Ystradgynlais 1944, where he worked for the next ten years at first drawing and from 1947 painting pictures of miners, including a large picture ‘South Wales’ for the exhibition 60 Paintings for '51 and a still larger ‘Miners Crouching’ for the South Bank Festival of Britain Exhibition. Became a naturalized British subject 1948. Member of the London Group 1952. Has lived in London since 1953 and has travelled in France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Israel. Retrospective exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery 1956.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I