In an era when American artists didn’t count and women were expected to stay home, Edith Gregor Halpert burst onto the fledgling New York gallery scene, defying all cultural and societal rules. In 1926, Halpert, just twenty-six years old, opened one of the first art galleries in Greenwich Village and set about turning the art world upside down. Her Downtown Gallery, which she ran for forty-four years, laid the groundwork for the art market’s modern era, and its aggressive promotion and sales tactics. Halpert cultivated the most illustrious art collectors of the day, invented the market for folk art, and pushed the first group of American artists working in a modern vernacular into the history books, including Stuart Davis, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe, Ben Shahn, and Arthur Dove. Despite all this, Edith Halpert herself has been lost to history. Until now.
In The Girl with the Gallery, journalist Lindsay Pollock brings Halpert and her era vividly back to life, tracing the story of how this remarkable woman, who started out a penniless Jewish immigrant, made it her mission to fight for American art and artists. Illustrated with eight pages of full color photographs, this is biography at its finest, an unforgettable story of class, money, vanity, jealousy, and tragic loss.
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