JOSEF HERMAN (RA, OBE) (1911-2000)
Polish-born artist Josef Herman was renowned for capturing the essence of the British working classes, making a distinct contribution to the artistic scene in Britain from his arrival in 1940. Herman left his native Warsaw for Brussels in 1938, in order to escape oppressive political conditions in Poland. He subsequently fled to Paris and then to Britain in 1940, arriving in Glasgow. In 1943 he moved to London, where he exhibited with L S Lowry, moving again in 1944 to the Welsh mining village of Ystradgynlais, where the local mining community would inspire his subsequent paintings. His transcendent images of coal miners, fishermen and farm workers from Wales, Scotland and Suffolk represented the dignity of ordinary people and a reverence for the quiet beauty in everyday life.
Herman was born in Warsaw in 1911 and studied at Warsaw School of Art and Decoration (1930-31). Throughout his life he travelled extensively, and his work has been shown in over 250 exhibitions across five continents, including the Festival of Britain exhibition on London’s South Bank in 1951; Camden Arts Centre; Geffrye Museum; and Whitechapel Gallery, London; National Museum of Wales, Cardiff; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Ernst Museum, Budapest; and the Jewish Museum, New York. His work is represented in many major collections including Tate; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; National Museum of Wales; Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal; National Gallery of Canada; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; Wellington National Art Gallery, New Zealand; and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, amongst many others. Herman was awarded an OBE in 1981 for services to British art and was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts in 1990.