A painter and printmaker, Jankel Adler was born near Lodz, Poland in 1895 of Jewish parents. He moved to Barmen, Germany in 1914 where he studied at the School of Applied Arts.
In 1922 he settled in Dusseldorf and taught at the Academy of Arts. He later became acquainted with Paul Klee, who influenced his work. It was probably from him that he learnt the technique of 'offset' monotype, which he later taught to many young British artists when he settled in Britain after the Second World War.
After Hitler's regime took power in 1933 Adler left Germany and stayed in Paris where he met another major influence in his work, Pablo Picasso. In the following years he made numerous journeys to Poland, Italy, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Romania and the Soviet Union. With the outbreak of World War II in 1939 Adler joined the Polish Army and was eventually evacuated to Britain, where he lived in Kirkcudbright, Scotland.
In 1943 Adler moved to London and lived in a studio in Bedford Gardens above Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde, whom he knew from Glasgow. John Minton also had a studio there and so Adler became an artistic link between the European avant-garde and a number of young British painters including Keith Vaughan, Prunella Clough, Benjamin Creme, Michael Ayrton and the playwright Dylan Thomas.
His work was widely exhibited in London galleries, mainly at the Redfern and Lefevre, and in New York at the Knoedler Galleries. The Arts Council gave Adler a memorial show in 1953. In 1980 a major show of his work was held in Dusseldorf, Tel-Aviv and Lodz.
His work is held in the Tate Gallery and major foreign galleries..