Joseph Vorst was born in Essen, Germany in 1897. His father was a cabinet maker and designer. He studied at the Flokwang Academy and at the National Academy of Berlin under Max Slevogt and Max Liberman. In order to escape from artistic and personal restrictions of freedom, Vorst came to America in 1930. He settled in St. Louis, Missouri and became both friend and student of Thomas Hart Benton. Benton remarked that the first time he met Vorst it was like meeting himself. The two eventually shared a studio. Vorst was the Director of Art at Jefferson College in St. Louis and also taught at the Adult Educational Center of Washington University. He also created murals for post offices in Bethany and Vandalia Missouri.