Oskar Herman

Oskar Herman
Born (1886-03-17)17 March 1886
Zagreb, Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, (now Croatia)
Died 22 January 1974(1974-01-22) (aged 87)
Zagreb, SFR Yugoslavia
Nationality Croatian
Education Zagreb, Munich
Known for painting
Notable work paintings in oils and watercolour, drawings
Movement colourist expressionism, modern

Oskar Herman (1886–1974) was a Croatian Jewish painter. He was one of the group of Croatian artists known as the Munich Circle, who had a strong influence on modern art in Croatia.[1]


Herman was born on 17 March 1886 in Zagreb to Croatian Jewish family[1][2][3] of Danijel and Jozefina Herman. His father died when he was 4 years old.[4] He initially attended business school in Zagreb,[5] although his interest was in drawing and painting. He studied art at the painting school of K. Filip[5] in Zagreb. Then he moved to Munich where in 1904, like his compatriot Josip Račić, he attended the school of the Slovene painter and teacher Anton Ažbe.[5] In 1905 he enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, where he studied until 1910 under teachers such as Hugo von Habermann.[5] At that time Munich was a center of European art scene for Realism, Post-Impressionism, Symbolism and Jugendstil.

In 1914, after the start of World War I, Herman returned to Zagreb. Being partially unfit for military service, he served the army in Zagreb, from 1915 to 1918.[6] He then went to Munich again, where he continued to live until 1933, with short stays in Zagreb, Berlin and Paris.[1] At that point, due to the escalation of Nazism, he returned to Zagreb.[7] During his stay in Munich he regularly displayed his work, with some success, at solo shows as well as participating in exhibitions of Munich Secession Art.

In the war years, Herman joined Partisan forces and was captured and confined in the refugee camp (1942–44) of Ferramonti di Tarsia, in Calabria, southern Italy.[5][7] After his release he joined the artists colony of Cozzano.[7]

In 1944, Herman returned to Croatia and rejoined the Partisans. In 1945 he started work as a curator at the Modern Gallery in Zagreb, a position he held until his retirement in 1954.[8] That year he prepared a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Crafts,[9] and in 1971 a major retrospective at the Art Pavilion. Herman was a reclusive artist, so his work was late in being accepted and understood.[1]

Herman died on 22 January 1974 in Zagreb and was buried at the Mirogoj Cemetery.[10]


Nagovaranje (Persuasion, 1921)

As a member of the famous Munich Circle, Herman's early work had a strong influence on Croatian contemporary art from the first half of the twentieth century.[7] As the longest lived member of the group, Oskar Herman had the most time to develop as an artist, yet he remains the least well-known and accepted within Croatia. Recent acclaimed retrospective exhibitions have shown previously unknown Herman drawings, most of them from the Munich period (1906–1933) and have led to a better appreciation of his work.[11] While in Munich, Herman encountered the ideas of prominent art historian Julius Meier-Graefe and his aesthetics of "pure visibility". He found inspiration in the work of such artists as Giorgione, Tintoretto, Palma Vecchio, and Hans von Marées.[11]

Herman was solitary artist who pursued his own vision, largely unaffected by contemporary trends in modern art.[12] By the 1920s he was known for being somewhat of a recluse. His use of symbolism developed before the expressionism movement became widespread. His paintings show ever stronger expressiveness, with his main motive to depict man and his inner world.[7] Herman's early watercolours show strong, brilliant colours out of which his own particular expressionist colourism developed. From 1925, his work also reflected an increasing vision of future persecution and terror.[11]

Herman's 1973 painting Dva stabla pod brijegom (Two Trees at the Foot of a Hill) was featured on a stamp in the series Croatian Modern Paintings issued 2008.[7]



Solo shows

Group shows

Public collections


  1. 1 2 3 4 Kelemen, Boris; Gamulin, Grgo (1978), Oskar Herman (in Croatian), Zagreb: GZH
  2. Knežević & Laslo (2011, p. 89)
  3. 1 2 HINA (23 June 2010). "Exhibition of Oskar Herman paintings opens in Zagreb". Culture Net. Retrieved 23 June 2010. The exhibition of the work of the Zagreb painter from a prominent Jewish family includes 340 pieces from all stages of Herman's life – from his earliest work made in Munich to his last painting made in 1974. Oskar Herman belongs to the so-called Munich circle of Croatian paintings. The event was opened by the president of the Jewish Municipality Zagreb, Ognjen Kraus.
  4. Bavoljak (2013, p. 17)
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Herman, Oskar, Hrvatski Leksikon (in Croatian), I, Zagreb: Naklada Leksikon d.o.o., 1996, p. 440, ISBN 953-96728-0-5
  6. Bavoljak (2013, p. 19)
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Croatian Modern Painting – Oskar Herman". Croatian Post. 2008. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  8. "Modern Gallery". Zagreb: Modern Gallery, Zagreb. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
  9. "Muzej za umjetnost i obrt" [Museum of Art and Crafts] (in Croatian). Zagreb, Croatia. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
  10. (Croatian) Gradska groblja Zagreb: Oskar Herman, Mirogoj Ž-924-ARKVEL-5
  11. 1 2 3 Marina Tenžera (October 2007). "Oskar Herman – crteži u Gliptoteci HAZU" [Oskar Herman drawings in the Gliptoteka of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU)] (in Croatian). Vjesnik Online. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
  12. Tenžera, Marina. "Oskar Herman (Zagreb, 17.3.1886 — Zagreb, 18.1.1974)" (in Croatian). Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "Artist Profile: Oskar Herman". Artifacts.net. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
  14. "ZAGREB – MÜNCHEN: Hrvatsko slikarstvo i Akademija likovnih umjetnosti u Münchenu" [Zagreb = Munich: Croatian painters and the Academy of Art in Munich] (in Croatian). Art Pavilion Zagreb. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
  15. "Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik". Dubrovnik: Museum of Modern Art, Dubrovnik. April 2009. Retrieved 18 June 2010.
  16. "Galerija Umjetnina Split" [Art Gallery Split] (in Croatian). Retrieved 22 June 2010.
  17. "Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb". Retrieved 18 June 2010.


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