Born in 1905 in Berlin, Germany, and immigrated to Israel in 1936. He began studying medicine at the University of Berlin but stopped studying after two semesters of anatomy and went to study at the Faculty of Art.
Simon began studying sculpture with Professor Kurt Kluga, but the practice of sculpture did not attract him, and in 1926 he enrolled at the Art Academy in Frankfurt where he studied painting with Max Beckmann
And a drawing by the painter Peter Rasmussen, who greatly influenced him in the field of drawing, and Simon joined him on his tours in France, Italy and Spain.
In 1928 he moved to Paris where he studied at the Bazaar from 1931 to 1934 and from there moved to Marseilles and Toulon. In Toulon he befriended the French painter André Dern, who was one of the leaders of the Fovism movement and was influenced by it in the field of painting in color.
Simon immigrated to Israel in 1936 and joined Kibbutz Gan Shmuel. In the kibbutz he painted a little in the early years. Hashomer Hatzair, to which he belonged to Kibbutz Gan Shmuel, arranged for him to teach painting at her seminars and was active in the organization of painters and sculptors of Kibbutz Artzi. He was later appointed editor of the newspaper Al Hamishmar. He was active in the Haganah and served in the Palmach camouflage unit during the War of Independence, and he did not follow the ideological path of the movement in the field of art. After arguments and confrontations with the leaders of the movement, he left the kibbutz in 1953 and moved to Tel Aviv.
In 1962 he moved to Herzliya Pituach and at the same time had a painting studio in the Ein Hod Artists Village.
In 1949, he participated in the first exhibition of the "New Horizons" group, which was held at the Tel Aviv Museum, followed by four other group exhibitions. In 1951 he appeared for the first time in a solo exhibition abroad. In 1952, he founded the Oranim Art Institute together with several other artists.
In 1954 he left New Ofakim together with Marcel Janco and Aharon Kahana.
His second wife was the designer Leitersdorf, who was a "seamstress" who designed costumes for the theater and designed clothes for Maskit. With her influence and the help of her acquaintances abroad, they embarked on a long journey in Europe and Latin America (from the middle of 1953 until the summer of 1955) and was greatly influenced by the new and different paintings.
In 2001, a retrospective exhibition of his works "Double Portrait" was held at the Tel Aviv Museum. Curator Tali Tamir wrote a comprehensive and comprehensive research catalog on Simon's life history and work.
A partial selection of prizes:
1953, 1961, 1964 Dizengoff Prize for painting and sculpture by the Tel Aviv Municipality
1951 Congress Award for Jewish Culture, New York
1956 Award of the Israeli Olympic Committee
1960 Histadrut Prize
Yohanan Simon has performed a large number of murals on Israeli ships, public buildings and hotels in Israel and around the world. He also worked as a book illustrator and designed backdrops.