Considered one of the most important late-period Surrealist painters, Hérold was born in a Jewish family in Piatra Neamț, Romania. He spend most of his childhood in the Danubian port city of Galați, where his father was making and selling candy. Between 1925 and 1927 he studies at an art school in Bucharest, against his father's will. After 2 years, he abandons the Art Academy in 1929 and instead starts working at an architecture bureau. In the same year he briefly contributes to a few Romanian Surrealist revues.
In 1930, he moves to France and, thanks to fake ID, changes his name from Herold Blumer (his birth name) to Jacques Hérold. He settles in Paris, where he maintained a close friendship with Constantin Brancusi, for whom he also worked as a chef or even secretary. He also meets Surrealist painter Yves Tanguy, thanks to whom Hérold was allowed in Breton's group, participating at games and contributing with paintings that were held in high esteem by the likes of Raoul Ubac or Breton himself.
After the tensioned period of WWII, he managed to have his first solo exhibition in 1947. Starting with this year's "Exposition
Internationale du Surréalisme", he has an active presence in all the important Surrealist exhibitions worldwide. After 1951 (when he also departs from Breton's group), his style increases in abstraction and will be associated later with Lyrical Abstraction and Tachisme. In 1958 he publishes the book "Maltraité de peinture" and receives the Copley Foundation prize. In 1959 he has an exhibition at the Tate Gallery from London. In 1972, a monographic exhibition at l'Abbaye de Royaumont. In 1986, one year before his death, he exhibits works at the Venice Biennale.
During his lifetime, Hérold has done cover artwork and illustrations for more than 80 books by the likes of Gherasim Luca, Tristan Tzara, Francis Ponge, Julien Gracq, Marquis de Sade, Michel Butor, Alain Bosquet, Gellu Naum, Ilarie Voronca, Claude Sernet, etc. Art critic Sarane Alexandrian publishes in 1995 the essay book "Jacques Hérold. Étude historique et critique".