Born Hans Yohanan in Berlin on Nov. 3, 1905, Yohanan Simon began studying medicine at Berlin University in 1924. The following year, he transferred to the faculty of art to study sculpture. Still seeking his métier, he switched from sculpture to painting, enrolling in 1926 in the Academy of Art in Frankfurt am Main (now the Academy of Visual Arts). There he studied, notably with Max Beckmann and Peter Rasmussen, with whom he visited Spain in 1927 to learn about its painting.
In 1928, Simon won a scholarship from the Jewish community in Berlin to study painting in France. He moved to Toulon, a port town in southern France, to study with André Derain and in 1931 mounted his first solo exhibition there. Later that year, he moved to Paris where he juggled studying at the École des Beaux Arts, exhibiting at the Salon d'Autumne and Salon des Tuileries, and working as a graphic designer for two French magazines: Vu and Les Annales.
In 1934, Vu sent Simon to New York for ten months, where he encountered Diego Rivera`s murals. Upon his return to Paris in 1935, his parents and younger sister immigrated to Israel. Simon followed the next year and stayed in Jerusalem for several months, working as a graphic designer for the Jewish Agency. Around October 1936, Simon visited Kibbutz Gan Shmuel near Haifa as a guest. A year later, be became a full-fledged member of the Kibbutz and designed posters for the Labor Party and the Kibbutz movement plus provided illustrations for the kibbutz bulletin.
Simon married Sarah Katz in 1938 and in 1941 served as a Secretary for the Association of Painters and Sculptors of Kibbutz Ha'Artzi. In 1942, he presented a memorandum on the association`s situation, which reinforced his status in the group. He continued to design book covers, plus sets for the first Hebrew opera, Dan the Guard, performed in 1945 by the Palestine Folk Opera. With the outbreak of the War of Independence in 1948, he was recruited to the camouflage department of the Palmach (the elite fighting force of the Haganah), and helped found the New Horizons Group alongside 16 other artists.
In 1953, he left the Kibbutz and moved to Tel Aviv where Israeli artist, architect and art theorist Marcel Janco invited him to join the founders of Ein Hod, a utopian artists' village at the foot of Mount Carmel. He continued to exhibit widely: in London, New York, Tel Aviv, Cologne, San Francisco, Warsaw, Los Angeles, and Scottsdale. In early 1976, Simon died at home of a heart attack.
1946 Dizengoff Prize for his painting "Shabbat in the Kibbutz" World Jewish Congress' Cultural Award, New York
1954 Award from the Israeli Olympic Committee Published Works
1970 Tales of Arara of Jabaquara
1972 From Landscape to Abstraction, from Abstraction to Nature, Exhibition Catalogue by Yona Fischer at the Israeli Museum, Jerusalem.