Born in a Polish city of Białystok, then part of Russian Empire, he immigrated to America with his parents at the age of 10. He studied art at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn under Arthur Wesley Dow. In 1905 he had saved enough money to travel to Paris and study, acquainting himself with the work of such modernist artists as Henri Rousseau, Matisse, Pablo Picasso and other members of the so-called School of Paris. In 1909 he returned to New York and helped to introduce cubism to America. He is considered one of the most significant American cubists. In 1930 the Museum of Modern Art held a retrospective of his work, the first solo exhibition at that museum of an American artist.