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The Girl With the Gallery: Edith Gregor Halpert And the Making of the Modern Art Market Hardcover – October 30, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 504 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1ST edition (October 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586483021
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586483029
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #886,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pollock, who reports on the art market for Bloomberg News, retrieves a uniquely American story: a plucky heroine escapes Russia with her parents, grows up in New York poverty and ends up owning one of the most influential and successful art galleries of the 20th century, one that virtually created the market for American art. Startlingly young when she embarked on her career in 1926, Edith Gregor Halpert (1900–1970) was one of the few gallery owners with an eye for the American avant-garde of the '20s, '30s and '40s. She recognized genius in Stuart Davis, made folk art trendy during the Depression and rescued from obscurity such classic artworks as Raphaelle Peale's After the Bath. She was prickly and often defensive, assertive and opinionated. These qualities brought her independence and financial security; they also led to loneliness and an ungraceful decline. Most interesting in Pollock's account are Halpert's difficult interactions with others in the business and with her artists, particularly Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O'Keeffe. It's surprising that Halpert, who paved the way for women in a male-dominated field, is so little known today; this book is long overdue. 8 pages of color photos, 28 b&w photos. (Nov. 6)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Without visionary art dealers, radical artists would remain starving artists. Edith Gregor Halpert was one such champion. In her resounding first book, art journalist Pollock tells for the first time the story of Halpert's life, a tale of conviction and chutzpah that is by turns charming, historically significant, and sad. Born in Odessa in 1900, Edith grew up in New York mad about art and utterly disinterested in convention. Determined to help struggling artists, this trailblazer traded on her beauty, moxie, keen eye, and entrepreneurial genius to open the first modern and politically charged art gallery in Greenwich Village in 1926. Advocating for the likes of Stuart Davis, Charles Sheeler, and Jacob Lawrence, Edith formed an unlikely but fruitful alliance with art lover Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. Instrumental in fostering serious appreciation for American folk art, Edith discovered many overlooked masterpieces, including the paintings of Edward Hicks. She also worked herself into exhaustion, especially during the Depression years, never found love, and infuriated many. Framed by a fresh and lively chronicle of the coalescence of New York's art world, Pollock's riveting portrait celebrates an inspired defender of artistic freedom. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on December 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The title here is just a little bit misleading. Yes Edith was the girl with the gallery, but there were a lot of girls that had galleries. What Edith built was THE Gallery, at least so far as modern American art was concerned. Furthermore she did it from the outside, she was born Russian, coming to America when she was six, and at the young age of 26 founding the Downtown Gallery in Greenwich Village.

There was at the time no American art movement. The few painters of the time had great difficulty selling their work. Edith changed that. Her gallery specialized in the work of these New York locals, combined agressive selling with a devotion to this style that remained for forty four years.

It was largely because of her that there is an American art scene. This book is a fine tribute to her life that has largely been forgotten.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By James R. Holland VINE VOICE on March 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had a lot of trouble putting aside the book so that I could take care of my normal daily chores and business. It was interesting to me from a variety of points. One of them was the excellent introduction information about how the author first learned of Edith Gegor Halpet and then how surprised she was to discover a treasure trove of available research material including an oral history that included more than 800 transcrbed pages. While I'm not in the gallery business, I do enjoy art and I found the book a very interesting story of how tough a business the marketing of art really is. Halpert's struggles opening and running a gallery have valuable lessons for any small business owner. Some of her sales techniques could be applied to almost any business with great success. The book is a great read and provides glimpses into the world of art, artists, patrons, museums, and the important contributions women have made to the art fields over the years. It's another example of how women have come into their own.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on January 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Fascinating bio and first rate discussion of the strange intersection of high-art and commerece. Shows how much artists owe to the people who support and believe in them.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Christian Schlect VINE VOICE on August 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A solid biography of a woman, who, from the early to middle part of the last century, was at the commercial center of American art.

The deceased and almost forgotten Edith Gregor Halpert, an immigrant with drive, is blessed with a thorough and admiring biography by Lindsay Pollock, a knowledgeable writer on things related to the New York art scene.

If you want to know more about how a small commercial art gallery actually operated; big money collectors, such as Mrs. Rockefeller and son Nelson; artists, such as Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keefe, and Jacob Lawrence; and such important threads of the art world as early American primitives--buy and read this book.

It is a tribute to the power of one focused person, who made a difference in what were hard times for American artists.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 30, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Art historian and blogger, Lindsay Pollock, takes a good look at the life and times of Edith Gregor Halpert, a pioneer in the selling of modern American art in the first half of the 20th Century. Born with the new century in Odessa, Edith Halpert emigrated from Russia with her widowed mother and older sister in the year 1906. Settling in New York City, the trio had the usual immigrant troubles, but Edith - a go-getter almost from birth - made her way in the 1910's and 1020's, establishing an art gallery "downtown", devoted to selling the work of American artists. After marrying and divorcing one such artist, Sam Halpert, Edith spent the remainder of her long life, chasing the artists, the collectors and patrons, and the museums, all of who - together - make the "art world".

Edith was helped out early by the patronage of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller - wife of John Jr and mother of Nelson - who saw the value in collecting American art. She was adept at selling and promoting "her" artists even in bad economic times. "The Downtown Gallery" eventually moved "uptown" but never changed its name or its championing of American artists. But after WW2 when a new generation of artists took over the art scene - including Jackson Pollock - Edith Halpert and her gallery were left behind. Her last few years in the business were on a down trend, but she maintained her reputation for presenting good art.

Lindsay Pollock - no relation to Jackson, I assume - is an excellent writer. Her biography of Edith Helpert is also an in depth look at the American art scene from 1920 to 1960. Helpert was in the middle of it and Pollock explains it quite well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mike Eggert on February 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This recent book (2006) is well researched and the bibliography is extensive and impressive. It does treat Edith Halpert in a sometimes "only female" Gallery owner role - and there were many more than just her. Not mentioning other key female gallery owners in New York at that time is a major and curious ommission. Betty Parsons, Peggy Guggenheim, and even the later Virginia Zabriskie are important aspects of a thorough study involving how Edith might have interacted with these important figures. Still, the book was very readable and provides many interesting and historical facts to the art world of that period. Some details about who was buying art at this time is often ommited in other studies around this subject. - Michael Eggert, Novato, CA Ph.D. (Art History)
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