Serov was born in the village of Emmaus in Tver Province. He studied under Savely Schleifer at the Vesiegonsk Studio of Art (1920s), under Isaac Brodsky and Vasily Savinsky at the VKhUTEIN/Institute of Proletarian Fine Art (1927–31) and as a post-graduate student of Isaac Brodsky at the Institute of Proletarian Fine Art (1931–33). He subsequently taught at the Ilya Repin Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1932–42).
He became a full member of the Academy of Arts of the USSR in 1954. He won the Stalin Prize in 1948 and 1951 and a gold medal of the Ministry of Culture of the USSR in 1958.