Josef Herman, OBE., RA., was born in Warsaw in 1911, coming to Britain via Belgium in 1938. He settled in Glasgow in 1940 then moved to Wales in 1944 finding in the village and miners of Ystradgynlais a deep source of inspiration. His sensitive and affectionate evocations of life in the mining community mark a high point in Herman's early work in the UK.
In his prints and drawings he examines and celebrates daily life in communities close to the soil. In Wales, Skye, Israel, Burguny, Mexico and Italy his eye has been unerringly drawn to people; standing, working, infrequently relaxing; to their solidity, humour, and their loneliness.
It is possible to feel bleakness in his work, but Herman's superb draughtsmanship and rapport balance this. His standpoint is triumphant with sheer existence, symbolic of humour and freedom. In his work with the printer Kip Gresham he has drawn three birds, timeless icons of peace, day and night.
His work is in many public collections, and retrospective exhibitions of his work include those at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1956 and at the Camden Art Centre in 1980. He received his OBE in 1981.
Josef Herman died on February 19th 2000.