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.


Born: Borisoglebs, Russia
Moved to New York, NY
Studied at Cooper Union, New York, NY
Studied at the Educational Alliance Art School, New York, NY
Studied at the Academy of Design, New York, NY
Taught at the Art Students League and at the New School, New York, NY
Co-founded the figurative art magazine, "Reality"
Gold Medal from the National Arts Club, New York, NY
Died: New York, NY


American Modernism 1920-1950: Selections from the Permanent Collection, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL
American Social Realism: 1920 - 1950, Forum Gallery, New York, NY
"Modern and Contemporary Landscapes", Forum Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Raphael Soyer: Finding America, Forum Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
"Raphael Soyer: Back in the Day", George Krevsky Gallery, San Fransisco, CA (solo)
"Modern and Contemporary Works on Paper", Forum Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
"Eye Contact: Painting and Drawing in American Art", Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
Recent Acquisitions, Forum Gallery, New York, NY
Recent Acquisitions:: Modern and Contemporary Art, Forum Gallery, New York, NY
Inaugural Exhibition: 68 Years / 68 Masters, ACA Galleries, New York, NY
Moses and Raphael Soyer Centennial Exhibition, ACA Galleries, New York, NY
American Master Prints, Kennedy Galleries, New York, NY
"Facets of the Figure: A Spectrum of 20th Century American Art", Gallery I; Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
ACA Galleries, New York, NY
Urban and Suburban, Sid Deutsch Gallery, New York, NY
Raphael Soyer: Retrospective, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (solo)
Bernard Crystal Gallery, New York, NY
ACA Gallery, New York, NY
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas, TX
Weyhe Gallery, New York, NY
Art Institue of Fine Arts, Chicago, IL
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Daniel Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Salons of America, New York, NY

Public Collections

Fogg Museum of Art, Cambridge, MA
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
The Jewish Museum, New York, NY
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
The Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY


Raphael Soyer: Finding America. New York: Forum Gallery, 2005 (catalogue)
Baskind, Samantha. Raphael Soyer and the Search for Modern Jewish Art. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003
Wooden, Howard E. Raphael Soyer: The Shape of Human Dignity. Witchita: Witchita Art Museum, 1988
Soyer, Raphael and Patricia Hills., Raphael Soyer’s New York: People and Places. Boston: Boston University of Art, 1984 (catalogue)
Soyer, Raphael. Self-Revealment, A Memoir. Random House, NY: Maecenas Press, 1969