Josef Herman (1911-2000)

Artist Josef Herman was born in 1911 in Poland. He died in London in 2000. There are 10 works by Josef Herman in the Ben Uri permanent collection.

Find out more about Josef Herman

Find out about Josef Herman work in the Ben Uri collection

Road Gang by Josef Herman

The Road Gang by Josef Herman 1953, one of several works by the artist in the Ben Uri exhibition Refiguring the 50s.

Work by Josef Herman in the Ben Uri permanent collection


Study for ‘In Memory of the Fighters for the Warsaw Ghetto’


Tribute to Goya’s Black Pictures (aka In Memory of the Fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto, aka Auschwitz)

Portrait of Avram Stencl by Josef Herman

Portrait of Avram Stencl


Figure Studies by Josef Herman

Figure Studies


Refugees by Josef Herman


Musicians (from A Memory of Memories) by Josef Herman

Musicians (from Memory of Memories)


Peasant by Josef Herman



Burgundian Peasants by Josef Herman

Burgundian Peasants

Miners by Josef Herman



Street Scene, Ystradgynlais by Josef Herman

Street Scene, Ystradgynlais


Two Seated Figures by Josef Herman

Two Seated Figures


Verso of a Postcard by Josef Herman

Verso of a Postcard

Josef Herman biography

Figure painter and draughtsman, Josef Herman was born in Warsaw in 1911. He studied at Warsaw School of Art and Decoration (1930–31) and first exhibited in Warsaw in 1932.

He established a life-long interest in portraying working people, co-founding the left-wing artistic group, ‘the Phrygian Bonnet’.

Brussels and Glasgow

He left Poland for Brussels in 1938 and arrived in Glasgow in 1940, where he met fellow artist Jankel Adler. Between 1940 and 1943 he contributed to a remarkable wartime artistic renaissance in the city.

In 1942 Herman learned through the Red Cross that his entire family had perished in the Warsaw Ghetto. Although he had already begun the powerful body of work on Jewish themes, this now darkened to include works specifically referencing pogroms.


In 1943 he moved to London, bringing the series to a close, holding his first London exhibition with L S Lowry.


In 1944, after a chance visit to the Welsh mining village of Ystradgynlais Herman experienced an artistic epiphany, and made his home among this close-knit, hard-working community for the next eleven years. His work was included in the South Bank Festival of Britain Exhibition.


Herman exhibited widely including Lefevre (with LS Lowry, 1943), Roland, Browse & Delbanco (1946, 1948, 1952, then regularly until 1975), Ben Uri (with Martin Bloch, 1949), Geffrye Museum (with Henry Moore, 1954), Whitechapel (1956), Camden Arts Centre (1980), National Museum of Wales, Cardiff (1989), Abbot Hall, Kendal (2005), and many exhibitions with Flowers and Flowers East Galleries.

His work is represented in many collections including London (Tate, V&A), Wales (National Museum), Scotland (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art); as well as in Canada, Australia, Israel, South Africa and New Zealand.

Josef Herman was one of five artists featured in the Ben Uri exhibition Refiguring the 50s: Joan Eardley, Sheila Fell, Eva Frankfurther, Josef Herman and L S Lowry held in 2014/15.

Josef Herman died in 2000.

Ben Uri Josef Herman exhibition

Find out more about the Ben Uri Josef Herman exhibition.

Ben Uri acquires rare early work: Refugees c. 1941

Ben Uri has acquired Refugees (c.1941) a rare and important early painting by Josef Herman which symbolizes not only the plight of Jewish refugees during the Second World but the wider displacement of peoples uprooted and forced into exile as a consequence of war.

Read more about the acquisition