Figure painter and draughtsman, Josef Herman was a Polish born realist painter who is remembered for his depictions of the Welsh mining community in Ystradgynlais. He attended the Warsaw School of Art between 1930 and 1932, and exhibited for the first time in Warsaw in 1932. He was among a generation of eastern European Jewish artists who emigrated to escape persecution and worked abroad. After settling in the village of Ystradgynlais in 1944, Herman worked at drawing for the next ten years, as displayed in Currell Collection, and from 1947 began painting pictures of miners.
Herman's artistic style, though sombre, is bold and distinctive. He sourced much inspiration from the community and the working people around him, most notably coal miners; imagery for which he is still fondly remembered. He was hugely influential in contemporary art, with mining communities becoming a naturalized British subject in 1948, and Herman becoming a member of the London Group in 1952. The Tate currently has over 150 of Herman's drawings and paintings in their collection and archives.
In 2004 the Josef Herman Foundation was established in Ystradgynlais, to honour the artist and his legacy, and encourage study of his work, as well as arts initiatives in South Wales.
Lit: Tate, www.tate.org.uk; Josef Herman Foundation, josefhermanfoundation.org