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Soyer

Soyer, three brothers, American painters, emigrated with their family from Russia in 1912. Two were twins, Raphael Soyer, 1899–1987, and Moses Soyer, 1899–1974, b. Borisoglebsk. They settled in New York City making its inhabitants the chief subject of their paintings. They concentrated on the depiction of the natural attitudes, thoughts, and gestures of individuals in the performance of habitual tasks. Raphael's subdued, realistic style expresses an intimate sympathy for people, as in Office Workers (Whitney Mus., New York City) or in his portraits, e.g., Mina (Metropolitan Mus.). Moses' figures are usually presented in higher-keyed color or sharper contrasts of black and white, as in The Old Worker (Phillips Memorial Gall., Washington, D.C.). Their younger brother, Isaac Soyer, 1907–81, b. Borisoglebsk, also specialized in everyday figure scenes. His Employment Agency (Whitney Mus., New York City) reveals the social realities of the depression years. The Soyers' concern with people and their environment places them within the tradition of American realism established by Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, and the Eight.

See R. Soyer's memoirs, Self-Revealment (1969); biography by L. Goodrich (1972); S. Cole, Jr., ed., Fifty Years of Printmaking (1967); biography of Moses Soyer by B. Smith and C. Willard (1944).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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