Josef Herman: Warsaw, Brussels, Glasgow, London, 1938-44 follows Herman’s tumultuous journey as he fled across these four European cities in six dramatic years. It brings together for the first time much of Herman’s surviving work from this formative period, when his art was at its most experimental and his use of colour strikingly imaginative. Most of it is held in private collections and therefore rarely seen, and has never previously been gathered together on such a comparable scale.

Included are the few remaining works from Brussels, a series of powerfully expressionist figurative works in oil, gouache and tempera, striking designs for a politically-themed masque and a ballet, and many works on paper from the series known as the ‘Memory of Memories’. These vivid, often poignant, sketches fired by memory and imagination, carried out in Glasgow between 1940 and 1943, bring the memory of Herman’s family (who perished in the Warsaw Ghetto), as well as his lost Warsaw years, back to life. The exhibition also includes examples of work by Herman’s contemporaries including fellow Polish émigré Jankel Adler, Estonian-born sculptor Benno Schotz,

Scottish colourist J D Fergusson, Martin Bloch, David Bomberg and Jacob Epstein. The exhibition concludes in mid-1944, when Herman’s momentous discovery of the Welsh mining town of Ystradgynlais in South Wales changed the direction of his life and work forever.

Online exhibition tour

Our blog contains a virtual tour of the exhibition:

Part one

Part two

Further images

Have a look at our Flickr page for more images from the Josef Herman show.

School Visits

The Ben Uri have produced a number of educational packs including activities for different age groups. If you wish to plan a school visit, or make a booking for any of these events, contact us on 0117 973 5129.

The exhibited is curated and organised by Ben Uri, The London Jewish Museum of Art. The exhibition, related education programmes and catalogue are part of Ben Uri’s continuing exploration of and commitment to the work of émigré artists.


Visit the What's On pages for more information about our Curator's Talk and Curator's Tour.


The Royal West of England Academy acknowledges the generosity of our supporters who have enabled us to exhibit Josef Herman’s work:

Smith & Williamson logo

abode logo

Effie Romain Trust

Bristol Hebrew Congregation (Park Row)

Ruth and Simon Baker

Tony Gordon

Sir Trevor Chinn

J.F Morgan - In commemoration of Dr Freddy Morgan

Marketed in partnership with Salaam Shalom

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5 May - 8 July 2012

Admission prices