Published: 8 March 2022
Thompson's Gallery, Aldeburgh are excited to announce an exhibition of works by the Polish Jewish artist Josef Herman. The entire collection of watercolours, ink washes, pencil drawings and lithographs have been in a private collection which has been accumulated over many years and is now being sold through Thompson's Gallery. Josef Herman's work often depicted workers as its subject and was inherently political and living and painting as he was in the heart of the South Wales mining community, he soon embraced and produced work with subjects that so many could relate to; miners at the coal face, farm folk, harvesters, mothers and their children, simple landscapes and even nudes and still lifes. There are examples of all of these subjects in this collection and represent the simplicity which Herman communicated of the working classes. We are showing samples of the iconic miners as well as the sketch of the women of Greenham Common which show Herman's commitment to painting politically evocative subjects.
Joseph Herman was born in Warsaw in 1911 and he attended the Warsaw School of Art where he trained as a typesetter and graphic designer and then for two years worked briefly as a graphic artist. He then emigrated to Belgium in 1938 where he attended the Brussels Academy of Fine Art. He was among more than a generation of eastern European Jewish artists who emigrated to escape persecution which led him fleeing to Britain in 1940, firstly living in Glasgow and then moving on to Ystradgynlais in the Welsh Valleys in 1944 where he became a much loved 'Polish-Welshman', nicknamed Joe Bach (little Joe). His talent was soon recognised and in 1943 he took part in a two-man exhibition with L.S. Lowry at the prestigious Lefevre Gallery in London. Numerous exhibitions, commissions, publications and awards were soon to follow including a Gold Medal at the Llanelli National Eisteddfod in 1962 and there is a large collection of his work in the National Museum of Wales. He moved to Suffolk in the 1960s and painted in Dunwich and Southwold amongst other places before going to London to settle.