Ben Uri collection

Couple (from 'A Memory of Memories')

Series: 'A Memory of Memories'

Artist information

Name Josef Herman (1911-2000)

Born Warsaw, Poland

Died London, England

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Painter and draughstman Josef Herman was born into a Jewish, working-class family in Warsaw in 1911. He studied at Warsaw School of Art and Decoration (1930-31), and first exhibited in his native city in 1932. He left Poland for Brussels in 1938 and arrived in Glasgow in 1940, where he was reunited with fellow Polish artist Jankel Adler, whom he had known briefly in Warsaw. Together the two artists contributed to a resurgence of the Scottish arts scene during this period.

Herman moved to London in 1943, prior to his relocation to the Welsh mining village of Ystradgynlais (1944-55), which gave rise to his best-known body of work focusing on the Welsh miners and their community.

Herman's work was included in the South Bank Festival of Britain Exhibition in 1951 and he exhibited widely including at the Lefevre galleries, London (with L S Lowry, 1943), with the emigre art dealers Roland, Browse & Delbanco (1946, 1948, 1952, then regularly until 1975), in London, with Ben Uri (including alongside Martin Bloch in 1949), the Geffrye Museum (with Henry Moore, 1954), the Whitechapel Art Gallery (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.

Object Details

Date c. 1940-43

Object type drawing

Medium pen and ink and wash on paper

Materials and techniques pen and ink | wash (medium) drawing (technique) paper (support)

Acquisition Given in loving memory of Eli and Atara Rozik-Rosen (1932-2018). Prof. Eli Rozik-Rosen served as the Israeli Cultural Attaché in London (1983-86) and supported the Ben Uri Gallery in this role. Eli and Atara were close friends of the artist Josef Herman. This work is donated to the museum in memory of their friendship.

Accession number 2018-24

Display status not on display

After his arrival in Glasgow in 1940, as an evocation of a lost Warsaw, Herman began a series of nostalgic drawings variously depicting family life, Jewish customs and the everyday street life of his native city. After receiving the news that his entire family had perished in the Warsaw Ghetto, the series darkened to include images of pogroms.

This work is reminiscent of drawings of the artist's parents and Herman has inscribed the drawing as a birthday gift to his friend, labelling it as 'a fragment of myself'.


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