Raphael Soyer

Beloosesky Gallery is interested in purchasing paintings by Raphael Soyer. 

Please call (917) 749-4577 or email us at info@beloosesky.com

 

Born in Borisoglebsk, Russia in 1899, Raphael Soyer is identified as a Social Realist painter because of his interest in the common man, although he avoided subjects that were particularly critical of society.

 

Soyer moved with his family to the Lower East Side of New York City in 1913, after they were deported from Russia by the Tsarist regime.  His father, a Hebrew teacher and writer, encouraged artistic and intellectual pursuits.  His popularity with his students in Russia and his liberal ideas led to problems for him with the authorities, and he was forced to leave with his family.

 

Soyer left school at sixteen to help support the family.  He attended free classes at Cooper Union and at the National Academy of Design.  Guy Pene du Bois, a teacher at the Art Students League, recognized his talent and introduced him to Charles Daniel, who gave him his first solo exhibition in 1929.  The success of this event secured his position as a professional artist.

 

The experience of immigrant life in the United States provided him with a rich source of imagery for his art, which was sensitive, penetrating portrayals including transients, shoppers, dancers, and fellow artists.  Near his studio in Manhattan's Lower East Side he observed his fellow New Yorkers.

 

His subjects were portrayed with strong, flat colors, which evoked a sense of isolation.  Common themes were intimate studies of solitary women, often nudes, and portraits of fellow artists, reflecting his great affection and admiration for them.

 

Soyer's most frequent model was himself, often posed with pencil or brush in hand and his work was mainly in oil and lithography.  He did not accept commissions for portraits because his interest was with the private person and the effects of the modern world on the psyche, rather than a public facade.

 

Artists he admired, such as Rembrandt, Degas, and Eakins, he felt were dedicated to showing their times truthfully, and emphasized inner character more than physical beauty.

 

Both of Soyer's brothers, Moses and Isaac, were also artists.  With his identical twin Moses, he painted murals for the post office in Kingessing, Pennsylvania.  He also taught at the Art Students League.  He was a co-founder of Reality magazine and champion of Realism at a time when Abstract Expressionism dominated the American art scene.

 

The Depression's economic difficulties could be seen in his subjects, and unemployed men caught Soyer's eye. Women at work became a theme with Soyer after 1940.

 

On November 4, 1987, he died in New York.

 

 

Sources include:

Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art

Matthew Baigell, Dictionary of American Art

 

Biography from the archives of Askart

 

 

Timeline

 

1899

Born: Borisoglebs, Russia

 

1912

Moved to New York, NY

 

1914–1917

Studied at Cooper Union, New York, NY

 

1914–1922

Studied at the Educational Alliance Art School, New York, NY

 

1918–1922

Studied at the Academy of Design, New York, NY

 

1933–1942

Taught at the Art Students League and at the New School, New York, NY

 

1953

Co-founded the figurative art magazine, "Reality"

 

1979

Gold Medal from the National Arts Club, New York, NY

 

1987

Died: New York, NY

 

 

Exhibitions

 

2009

American Modernism 1920-1950: Selections from the Permanent Collection, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL2004–2005

 

1997

American Master Prints, Kennedy Galleries, New York, NY

 

1988

Urban and Suburban, Sid Deutsch Gallery, New York, NY

 

1967

Raphael Soyer: Retrospective, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (solo)

 

1962

Bernard Crystal Gallery, New York, NY

 

1960

ACA Gallery, New York, NY

 

1946

Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

 

1945

Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas, TX

 

1944

Weyhe Gallery, New York, NY

 

1940

Art Institue of Fine Arts, Chicago, IL

 

1938

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA

 

1934

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA

 

1932

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

 

1929

Daniel Gallery, New York, NY (solo)

 

1926

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

 

Literature

 

2003

Baskind, Samantha. Raphael Soyer and the Search for Modern Jewish Art. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003

 

1988

Wooden, Howard E. Raphael Soyer: The Shape of Human Dignity. Witchita: Witchita Art Museum, 1988

 

1984

Soyer, Raphael and Patricia Hills., Raphael Soyer’s New York: People and Places. Boston: Boston University of Art, 1984 (catalogue)

 

1969

Soyer, Raphael. Self-Revealment, A Memoir. Random House, NY: Maecenas Press, 1969