Born in South Dakota in 1922, Parker received a Master of Fine Arts in 1948 from the University of Iowa, teaching at the University of Minnesota from 1948-51. Relocating to New York in the early 1950s, Parker quickly associated himself with the leading abstract expressionists of the day, including Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning. Parker soon began to simplify and refine his works realizing that through abstraction and color his paintings could convey and express emotion.
Parker was an admirer of Henri Matisse, whose work inspired his use of color and form, especially in works he made later in life. Parker is best known for his “Simple Paintings” from the late 50s to early 60s where cloudlike forms of color are set against a white background.
Raymond Parker's work is in the collections of the Los Angeles Museum of Art; Tate Gallery, London; Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.