Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Bradford Collins


During the 1930s, Russian-American artist Raphael Soyer (December 25, 1899 – November 4, 1987), a committed realist, was one of the preeminent artists working in the United States. However, with Abstract Expressionism superseding American Scene Painting as the dominant mode of expression during the 1940s and 1950s, Soyer and his contemporaries went from enjoying the esteem of the New York art world, to being outmoded by abstract artists. Reacting to the ascendancy of abstract art, Soyer sought to restore himself and his fellow representational artists to preeminence, attempted to dismiss abstract art as being antihuman while asserting the humanism of representational art, and expressed his own feelings of being ostracized from the New York art world. I argue that Soyer’s aforementioned reactions to the ascendance of abstract art are visible several of his paintings of his late career.