John Michael Anthony Koerner was born in 1913 in Novy Jicin, Czechoslovakia. He studied law and art in Prague and Paris. He immigrated to Canada in 1939 settling in Vancouver.
Once settled in Vancouver he worked for the family lumber company. In 1950 he began painting full time while teaching art, first at the Vancouver School of Art from 1953-58, and then at the University of British Columbia from 1959-71.
He was an original member of the West Coast Modern Art Movement.
He is represented in many private, corporate, and public collections such as The National Gallery of Canada, The Art Gallery of Ontario, The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, Musée d'Art Contemporain, Montreal, London Public Library and Art Museum, London, Ontario, Art Gallery of Victoria, B.C, and The Vancouver Art Gallery, among many others.
From 1960-70 he was a member of The Federation of Canadian Artists, 1960-66 Associate Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, in 1957 he joined the Canadian Group of Painters, 1956-58 he was President of the British Columbia Society of Arists, and in 1954 he became an Associate British Columbia Society of Arists.
He died in Vancouver in 2014.