Raphael Soyer (American, December 25, 1899–November 4, 1987) was considered an American Scene and Social Realist painter. Soyer was known for depicting contemporary society in his paintings. He is known for paintings such as Entering the Studio, Standing Nude, and Dancing Lesson. Soyer was born in Borisoglebsk, Tambov. He had a twin brother named Moses (Russian/American, 1899–1987), as well as a younger brother named Isaac (Russian/American, 1902–1981).
In 1912, Soyer's family moved from Russia to the United States, and settled in Bronx, NY. Soyer began to study art at the Cooper Union, a privately funded college that is located in the East Village of New York City. While studying at the Cooper Union, Soyer befriended Chaim Gross (American, 1904–1991). After attending the Cooper Union, Soyer attended the National Academy of Design. Eventually, Soyer also attended the Art Students League of New York, and studied under Boardman Robinson (Canadian/American, 1876–1952) and Guy Pene du Bois (American, 1884–1958). After completing his education, Soyer was frequently associated with other painters including Reginald Marsh (American, 1898–1954), Kenneth Hayes Miller (American, 1876–1952), and Isabel Bishop (American, 1902–1988).
Soyer opposed the Abstract Art that became popular during the 1940s and 1950s. Instead, he chose to depict life as it really happened by painting scenes of family, friends, and strangers in New York. Soyer often used watercolors to create his art. In 1930, Soyer began teaching at the John Reed Club in New York. He also taught at the New School for Social Research, as well as the Art Students League of New York. During the 1930s, Soyer began to regularly exhibit his artwork at such places as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the National Academy of Design, the Carnegie Institute, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Many of these exhibitions included work from other artists as well. During his lifetime, Soyer also co-founded the magazine Reality. He wrote and illustrated several books including A Painter's Pilgrimage: An Account of a Journey with Drawings by the Author and Diary of an Artist. Soyer died in 1987 from cancer.