Expressionist painter and occasional sculptor of Russian-Jewish origin, who specialised in scenes of Jewish life in the ghettoes of Eastern Europe. Born at Kremenchug in the Ukraine, where his father was Shamash of a synagogue. Studied at Kiev School of Fine Arts in 1911, then visited Paris in 1913-14 and entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, in the studio of Cormon, where he met Soutine. Returned to Russia in 1914, after the outbreak of war. Exhibited a Cubist portrait in St Petersburg and in 1917, after the Revolution, was appointed professor in Kharkov. Left Russia in 1921 and settled in Paris; obtained French nationality in 1927. First one-man exhibition at the Galerie Percier, Paris, 1923. Visited Palestine in 1928, 1935 and 1937. Fled from France after the German Occupation and lived 1940-5 in New York, where he began to make sculptures as well as paintings, then returned to Paris. From 1948 visited Israel annually. Died in Tel Aviv. He bequeathed the works still in his possession to the town of Haifa.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.473