Josef Herman (1911 - 2000)
Mosek Josek Herman was born in 1911 in Warsaw, the son of a Jewish cobbler. Herman studied at the Warsaw School of Art from 1930-2 and exhibited for the first time in Warsaw in 1932. On the outbreak of World War II and with the threat of German invasion, Herman was forced to flee Poland, eventually finding refuge in Great Britain in 1940. Although Herman survived the war, his entire family died in the Nazi Holocaust.
In 1944, Herman moved to the small Swansea valley town of Ystradgynlais where he ‘found all that he needed,’ and developed a sense of belonging and identification with the town’s inhabitants. Herman found inspiration for his art amongst the working people of the town, especially the coal miners as the hardship and toil of their existence reminded him of and echoed with his own personal tragedy. In 1951, he was awarded a commission to paint a mural for the Festival of Britain which firmly established his reputation in Britain. His stylistic approach is predominantly expressionist with a focus on simplified forms, the removal of extraneous detail, and crudely applied colour. Herman became a member of the London group in 1952 and was awarded an OBE for services to British Art in 1981. He died in February 2000.