Raphael Soyer
Russian-American, 1899-1987
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Collected by major museums
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields
Selected exhibitions
2018
Political Art,
Alpha 137 Gallery
Truth & Beauty: Charles White and His Circle,
Michael Rosenfeld Gallery
2014
Social Art In America: Then and Now,
ACA Galleries

Once dubbed the “East Side Degas,” Russian-Jewish émigré and social-realist painter Raphael Soyer depicted ordinary men and women in contemporary settings. While studying at the Art Students League of New York under Guy Pène du Bois, he was influenced by the Ashcan School’s faithful representations of daily life in New York City’s poorer corners. Soyer rejected abstract art, stating, “I choose to be a realist and a humanist in art.” In sympathetic renderings of the unemployed during and after the great economic crash of 1929, many of Soyer’s paintings came to embody the Depression, as in the drawn, weary face and soft eyes that gaze out of Portrait of Walter Broe (1932). Soyer also painted women in large numbers and various forms throughout his career, including nudes, shop-girls, prostitutes, and pedestrians, displaying a love for and fascination with the manifold faces of humanity.

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