Born in Brooklyn, New York to an immigrant Russian family. At twelve he was bedridden with polio and used the time to begin early lessons in painting. At sixteen he entered the Art Students League of New York, where he studied for four years with Kenneth Hayes Miller, John Christen Johansen, Frank DuMond, George Bridgman, and Dimitri Romanovski. In 1920 he married a fellow student, Peggy Bacon. From 1924 to 1927 he was the assistant director of the Whitney Studio Club whilst working as a reviewer for The Arts magazine. He taught at the Art Students League of New York from 1933 until 1936 and again from 1942 until 1943.
His reputation as a realist painter grew and his work was exhibited widely, garnering numerous awards. More celebrated prizes included the Frank G Logan prize at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1929, the Carnegie Prize at the Carnegie International art exhibition in 1939, the Temple gold medal at the Pennsylvania Academy in 1931 and a gold medal at the Paris International Exhibition in 1937. In 1930, he was awarded second place to Picasso's first prize at the Carnegie Institute’s International Exhibition of Modern Painting.
About 1940, he was divorced from Peggy Bacon. After a second marriage to Libby Bergere and spells living in Savannah, Georgia, in 1945 he married his third wife, the painter Gina Knee. In 1948 they moved to Sag Harbour on eastern Long Island, where he retired from painting around 1965.
His work can be found at a variety of museum collections, such as the Whitney Museum, the Metropolitan Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Albright-Knox Gallery.
His third wife Gina Knee became associated and exhibited with the exciting circle of Abstract Expressionist artists - including Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Willem de Kooning, and Robert Motherwell.