Josef Istler was born on November 13, 1919 in Prague.
From 1938 to 1939 he studied in Yugoslavia with the German painter Walter Höfner. From 1942 he was a member of the RA Group, later a member of the SVU Mánes, the Cobra Group (Belgium and France), the Hollar Association of Czech Graphic Artists, the Karel Teige Society and the Phases movement. He is one of the leading representatives of Czech and European surrealism and informel. He also designed the decorations of public buildings, such as a triptych for Ruzyně Airport in Prague. Later, until his death, he concentrated on abstract, mostly graphic works. He is represented in the National Gallery Prague, Moravian Gallery Brno, PNP Prague, Tate Gallery London, Center G. Pompidou Paris, British Museum London, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Museum Marseille, Musée de l'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, in Munich, Geneva and Stockholm.
He died on June 19th 2000 in Prague.
1946 – Brno, Mansarda, Prague, Mazáčova síň
1947 – Praha – Topičův salon
1965 – Brno, Dům pánů z Kunštátu
1967 – Berlin, Galerie Bremer
1968 – Helsiniski, Strindberg Galerie ▪ Lausanne, Galerie Melissa
1980 – Paris, Galerie 2000
1983 – Berlin, Galerie Dialog
1988 – Praha, Památník Národního písemnictví
1990 – Paris, Galerie du Cobra,
1993 – Vienna, Galerie Peithner
1996 – Ostrava, Výtvarné centrum Chagall