Heimrad Prem was born in Roding in the Upper Palatinate on 27 May 1934. Instructed by his father, a painter, Prem started drawing early. In 1949 he finished secondary school and began an apprenticeship as a decorative painter, as he was thought to take over his father's small firm. But after his training, Heimrad Prem applied at the "Akademie der Bildenden Künste" in Munich. At first he continued his art inspired by Rembrandt, but he also discovered Piero della Francesca's art during his travels.
He was expelled from the academy in 1956 when he illegally spent the night there. He switched temporarily to the "Hochschule der Künste" in Berlin. The following year Prem returned to Munich, where he co-founded the group "SPUR" with his friends Lothar Fischer, Helmut Sturm and HP Zimmer, in which Asger Jorn soon became a member.
Between 1959 and 1962 "SPUR" was part of the "Situationistische Internationale", an avant-garde group, which was mainly active in France and which propagandised life as art and had conflicts with the authorities due to their anarchistic ideas. Through a series of heroic manifests - pleadings for artistic freedom, for a free society and for pornography - the group gained a bad reputation as anarchist troublemakers.
For Heimrad Prem this furthered harsh consequences: arrest, legal proceedings over many years, exclusion from public competitions and difficult working conditions.
In 1962-63 Prem was able to execute several commissions for murals, partly as group works of all "SPUR" members. In 1964 he married the photographer Monika Maier, who gave birth to his child one year earlier. At that time works with the subject "Pair" came into existence.
The "documenta III" showed some of Prem's works in 1964. After the groups "SPUR" and "WIR" joined in 1965 (they called themselves "GEFLECHT" later), Heimrad Prem left Germany and lived and worked in Southern Sweden. There his "Familienbilder" came into existence. The artist attended increasingly to Pop-Art.
After his return he did no longer share his colleagues' interests. At the end of the 1960s Prem worked increasingly on his erotic work groups, organised his "Weiße Feste" and experimented - with scientific observation - with LSD and other intoxicants. His family grew, so that he and Monika had six children by 1969. After his friend Uwe Lausen's suicide he abandoned drugs and also tried to commit suicide several times. As a consequence he had to stay in hospital due to paralysis, where he drew and created ceramics. With new courage Heimrad Prem organised parties since 1972, worked with new materials, resumed old subjects and travelled to Italy, Scandinavia and the Iran. He taught at the Winterakademie in Kißlegg.
Together with a friend Heimrad Prem committed suicide on 19 February 1978.