Born in Leghorn, Toscany, of Jewish parents. Began to study art in 1898 with the landscape painter Micheli at Leghorn. As a youth suffered two severe illnesses, with onset in 1901 of tuberculosis.
Visited Naples, Capri, Rome, Florence and Venice to recuperate. Attended life classes at Florence Academy under Fattori 1902, and at the Institute of Fine Arts, Venice, 1903.
Moved in 1906 to Paris, where he was influenced by Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, the Fauves, then by Cézanne. Met Brancusi in 1909 and worked c.1910-14 mainly as a sculptor, making stone carvings of elongated heads. Substantial production of paintings from 1914-15, gradually developing a rhythmical linear stylisation. Had great difficulty selling his works at fair prices, though helped by Zborowski and Paul Guillaume. First one-man exhibition at the Galerie Berthe Weill, Paris, 1917. Died in Paris and is buried in the Père-Lachaise Cemitery.