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Josef Herman

Born 1911, Warsaw, Poland. Died 19 February 2000 in London.

Josef Herman studied at the Warsaw School of Art and Decoration from 1929-31. He worked as a graphic artist and designer in the city until 1938 when, like many Jewish artists he escaped the imminent Nazi occupation of Poland, first going to Brussels and Paris, before moving to the UK in 1940 where he was initially sent to Glasgow. There he met the artist Jankel Adler who encouraged him as an artist.

In 1943 he moved to London where he exhibited with L S Lowry; a year later he settled near Swansea, at the village of Ystradgynlais, a mining community which accepted him whole-heartedly and where he remained for the next eleven years. His paintings of miners, fishermen and farm workers captured the essence of the close-knit community. In 1951 he was commissioned to paint a mural, entitled 'Miners', for the Festival of Britain. He had previously been taken up by the London gallery of Rowland Browse and Delbanco, with whom he had a long association, and during the next decade exhibited regularly in London and elsewhere including solo shows in London, Leicester, York, Bradford, Swansea, Cardiff and Sheffield and internationally in Dresden, Toronto, Montreal, Aukland, Melbourne and Frankfurt.

The daily life of people was a constant theme in his work depicted in a distinctive style using bold, simplified forms, strong tonal contrasts and a rich palette of glowing colours.

Herman's work is held in many important collections including the Tate Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, National Museum of Wales, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, National Gallery of Canada, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and Wellington National Art Gallery, New Zealand

Herman was awarded the OBE for services to British Art in 1981 and in 1990 was elected as a Royal Academician.

A Group of Seagulls
The Seagull