* 1889 Neuss
† 1973 Essen-Werden
The painter Josef Urbach was born in Neuss in 1889. From 1905 until 1910 Josef Urbach attended the Düsseldorf Applied Arts School, where Peter Behrens and Fritz H. Ehmcke were among his teachers. After a stay in Paris in 1911, Josef Urbach switched to fine arts, studying painting at the Karlsruhe Art Academy. In 1914 Josef Urbach was conscripted for military service but was also deployed as a war painter on the Flanders front. After the war Josef Urbach joined the group of artists who called themselves "Das Junge Rheinland". In 1923, after teaching at the Essen Applied Arts School, Josef Urbach became a professor at the Folkwang School in Essen, responsible for the classes in drawing, portrait and the nude.
In the 1920s Josef Urbach joined the Rhenish Secession, whose style exerted an influence on his own painting. In the 1930s Urbach, too, was outlawed as a "degenerate" artist and his works were removed from the Folkwang Museum. In 1943 his studio was hit in a bombing raid and all the work he had done up to then was destroyed. After the war Josef Urbach was offered a teaching post in Weimar in 1947 but he preferred to remain in Essen, where he resumed his teaching at the Folkwang School.
In the years up to 1968 Josef Urbach produced many watercolors, lithographs and sketches. There are only a few Josef Urbach paintings in oils or acrylic from that period. In 1970 progressive blindness put an end to his work as an artist and teacher. Josef Urbach died on 8 October 1973.