Josef Herman 1915-1997

Josef Herman was a 20th Century British figure painter and draughtsman. His subjects are taken mainly from miners and field labourers, and are mostly treated in sombre tones,. He was born on 3rd January 1911 in Warsaw, the son of a Jewish cobbler. He studied at the Warsaw School of Art from 1930 to 1902, and first exhibited in Warsaw in 1932. In 1935 he organized with Siegmunt Bobovsky the 'Phrygian Bonnet', a group of young painters with Expressionist tendencies. Herman left Poland for Brussels in 1938, after which he was influenced by Permeke and worked in the Borinage. He settled in Glasgow in 1940 where he met Jankel Adler, another refugee, and painted for the first two years nostalgic reminiscences of his childhood. Herman came to London with his Scottish wife and had an exhibition at the Lefevre Gallery with L. S. Lowry in 1943. They settled in the Welsh mining village of Ystradgynlais in 1944, where Herman worked for the next ten years. During this time he at first drew and from 1947 painted 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. Herman became a naturalized British subject in 1948. In 1952 he became a Member of the London Group and has lived in London since 1953. Herman has travelled in France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Israel. A retrospective exhibition of his work was held at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1956.