An interview of Edith Halpert conducted 1962-1963, by Harlan Phillips, for the Archives of American Art.
Halpert speaks of her childhood in Russia and growing up in New York City; working at Bloomindale's, Macy's, Stern Brothers, and Cohen Goldman; her marriage to artist Sam Halpert, his health, and living in Paris in 1925; becoming an art student at the Academy of Design and feeling that Leon Kroll was an excellent art teacher until he began to correct her drawings; when George Bridgman thought she was ruining his class; the Lincoln Square Arcade, when she and Ernest Fiener and Robert Brackman would rent Conan's studio evenings and bring in instructors; how Newman Montross influenced her more than anybody about showing her art that she loved; burning all of her work because Kroll said she had no talent; receiving a painting from John Marin; her friendship and working relationship with Abby Rockefeller and other family members.
She recalls opening the Downtown Gallery, in Greenwich Village, in 1926; a brief history of modern art; many artists helping decorate the new Daylight Gallery in 1930 and the first show being called "Practical Manifestations of Art"; meeting Robert and Sonia Delaunay in France; when she refused to allow Ezra Pound to speak at one of the gallery lectures because of his anti-Semite remarks and William Carlos Williams and Ford Madox Ford argued with her over it; experiencing jealousy and professional attacks from other dealers; the successful "Pop" Hart show and book in 1929; the "Thirty-three Moderns" show in 1930 at the Grand Central Galleries; the Jules Pascin show in 1930; in America, most of the art buyers supporters of culture were women, until the WPA and World War II, when it became fashionable for men to be involved; Ambroise Vollard's advice on selling art; handling the frustrations of working in the art field; friendships with Stuart Davis,Charles Sheeler, and Ben Shahn; how artists work through dry periods in their creativity and the "Recurrent Image" show; a discussion on modern art galleries of New York City, such as Daniel, Knoedler, Ferargil, the New Gallery, 291, the Grand Central, Kraushaar, and Montross; her travels through Pennsylvania and Maine for good examples of folk art for the gallery; the "The Artist Looks at Music" show; the non-competitive spirit of the early modern American artists; of being saved financially in 1940 by selling a William Harnett painting to the Boston Museum and then renting new space for the gallery.
Also, Mitchell Siporin bringing Halpert and Edmund Gurry to Mitchell Field during World War II for a camouflage show and consequently Downtown Gallery artists and others were enlisted in the camouflage corps for the U.S. Air Force; Charles Sheeler and his wife find Halpert a house in Newtown, Conn.; her decision in 1933 to push folk art for acquisition by the William Rockhill Nelson Gallery in Kansas City, Missouri; her great concern about what to do with her folk art literature collection; dismay and that no one writes about the history of folk art and those responsible for its creation and popularity; Louis Stern hiring her to organize a municipal exhibit in Atlantic City, N.J., with Donald Deskey designing the furniture and Holger Cahill managing the publicity; Joe Lillie helping her meet Fiorello La Guardia and Joe McGoldrick in 1934 about a municipal show in New York City, but it is moved to Radio City Music Hall through Nelson Rockefeller; the "Salons of America" show; wanting articles written about art for love rather than art for investment; working with Aline Saarinen on her book, "Proud Possessors;" letters from Stuart Davis, William Zorach and others that hurt her feelings; enjoying giving educational lectures and considering retirement because of ill health; the desire to write a book on the history of trade signs in folk art; feeling that the young artists are being ruined by too much support without working for it; planning to write a book entitled, "Unsung Heroes," about artists brave enough to experiment; organizing a show in Russia at her own expense; later representing the U.S. in art at the "American National Exposition"; the agitators and success of the exposition; Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O'Keeffe.
Halpert also recalls Juliana Force, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Buckminster Fuller, George Luks, Edsel Ford, Max Weber, Danny Diefenbacker, Hamilton Easter Field, Frank Stella, Glenn Coleman, Margaret Zorach, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Henry Mercer, Romany Marie, Edward G. Robinson, Paul Mellon, Charles Pollet, Alex Brook, Lunca Curass, Dorothy Lambert, Duncan Candler, Frank Rhen, Louis Rittman, Bea Goldsmith, Arthur Craven, Robert Frost, Philip Wittenberg, Caesar de Hoke, Richard deWolfe Brixey, Seymour Knox, Walt Kuhn, Elisabeth Luther Cary, Charles Locke, Duncan Fergusson, Mrs. Solomon Guggenheim, Bob Tannahill, David Thompson, Marsden Hartley, Erwin Barrie, Robert Laurent, Conger Goodyear, Henry McBride, Edward Hopper, Charles Daniel, William Merritt Chase, Charles Hopkinson, Thomas Hart Benton, Frank Crowninshield, Alfred Barr, Lord Duveen, Jacob Lawrence, John Marin Jr., Karl Zerbe, Franz Kline, Arthur Dove, Julian Levy, Jack Levine, Valentine Dudensing, Peggy Bacon, Stefan Hirsch, Gertrude Stein, Isamu Noguchi, Jasper Johns, Chaim Soutine, B. K. Saklatwalla; Fernand Leger, Pablo Picasso, Ben Shahn, Charles Demuth, Alexander Calder, Jackson Pollock, Edward Steichen, Carl Sandburg, Clement Greenberg, and others.
Biographical / Historical:
Edith Halpert (1900-1970) was an art dealer from New York, N.Y.
Originally recorded on 7 tape reels. Reformatted in 2010 as 27 digital wav files. Duration is 32 hrs., 27 min.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others. The transcript was microfilmed in 1996.
Reel D9: Three letters to Alexander Wilson Drake, 1906-1909; 33 to Francis Welch Crowninshield, 1910-1913, mostly regarding business affairs pertaining to his illustrations; and to E.P. Dutton Company. Also one letter from the Century Company to Parrish, January 27, 1913; clippings, and reproductions.
Reel 4391: Four letters from Parrish to Mr. Coates discuss Parrish's work and Mr. Coates' purchase of CIRCE and his desire for a companion piece (1909-1912).
Reel 3483: A letter to Lanier from Maxfield Parrish, regretting he will be unable to make a sketch for the "Juvenile Catalogue" since "your house is rushing me without mercy on the magazine 'Prospectus' and this and other work will keep me very busy..."
Not microfilmed: An undated scrapbook containing reproductions of Parrish's works of art, printed material, and a poster.
Biographical / Historical:
Painter and illustrator; Cornish, New Hampshire. The son of painter Stephen Parrish, Maxfield attended Haverford College (1888-1891) and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (1892-1894). He also studied under Howard Pyle at Drexel Institute. Parrish had a studio in Philadelphia until 1898, when he moved to "The Oaks" in Cornish, New Hampshire, where he produced illustrations for magazines and books and later worked on landscape murals.
Letters on reel D9 donated by Charles Feinberg, 1955-1962. Letter on reel 3483 donated by Mrs. Thomas Coates, 1977. Letters on reel 4391 donated 1975 by Mrs. George Feeney. The donor of the scrapbook is unknown.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm.
Illustrators -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia Search this
Brief note from Charles Sheeler to Frank Crowninshield stating that Sheeler read the proof of Crowninshield's piece that was to be published in Vogue. There is an Illegible note in pencil on reverse side.
Biographical / Historical:
Sheeler was a painter, lithographer, photographer; Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y.; Crowninshield was an editor at Vogue.
Donated 2004 by David Dufour who acquired the note on eBay.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
The papers of painter, illustrator, muralist, and political activist William Gropper measure 3.3 linear feet and date from 1916-1983. Almost one-half of the collection consists of printed materials, including full issues of New Masses, Liberator, and Der Hammer, all featuring illustrations by Gropper. Circa 600 letters include those written to Gropper by Frank Crowninshield, Robert Henri, Louis Lozowick, Raphael Soyer, and others. Also found are photographs of Gropper, his family, colleagues, and friends, as well as scattered writings and notes, business records, biographical information, three drawings, and a fabric sample designed by Gropper.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of painter, illustrator, muralist, and political activist William Gropper measure 3.3 linear feet and date from 1916-1983.
Three folders of scattered Biographical Information are found for William Gropper, his wife Sophie and their children. Business Records consist of lists of artwork, price lists, contracts, receipts, and other financial records. Scattered Writings and Notes include mostly writings about Gropper by others, lists of works of art, and miscellaneous writings. Works of Art include three original drawings by Gropper and a sample of fabric designed by Gropper. Circa 600 letters within the papers were written to William Gropper between 1916 and 1977 (bulk, 1970s), although Sophie Gropper's correspondence is also included. Found here are letters from Frank Crowninshield, Robert Henri, Louis Lozowick, Frank Alva Parsons, Raphael Soyer, and others. There are also letters concerning Gropper's participation in the Federal Art Project and from Ben Horowitz of the Heritage Gallery who represented Gropper's artwork.
Almost one-half of the collection consists of Printed Materials, including full issues of New Masses, Liberator, and Der Hammer, all featuring illustrations by Gropper. Also found are auction and exhibition catalogs, clippings, press releases, and printed reproductions of Gropper's artwork.
Photographs are of Gropper, his family, colleagues, friends, family vacations, and works of art.
The collection is arranged into seven series:
Series 1: Biographical Information, circa 1942-1982 (Box 1; 3 Folders)
Series 2: Business Records, circa 1936-1983 (Box 1; 8 Folders)
Series 3: Writings and Notes, circa 1947-1978 (Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 4: Works of Art, circa 1940s, 1952, after 1958 (Box 1, OV 4; 2 Folders)
Series 5: Correspondence, circa 1916-1983 (Box 1; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 6: Printed Material, circa 1919-1983 (Box 1-3, OV 4; 1.4 linear feet)
Series 7: Photographs, after 1937-circa 1980s (Box 3; 0.8 linear feet)
William Gropper was born on December 3rd, 1897 in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. His family was impoverished and his parents worked in the New York garment factories. To help his family, Gropper took odd jobs throughout New York City. When he was not busy working, Gropper nurtured his artistic talents by drawing cartoons on sidewalks and the sides of buildings.
In 1912, Gropper began formal art education at the Ferrer School in Greenwich Village where he was influenced by the Ashcan School of social realists, particularly artists Robert Henri and George Bellows. After the Ferrer School, Gropper studied at the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts on a scholarship granted by Frank Alvah Parsons. Following his education, Gropper worked simultaneously at the New York Tribune and Rebel Worker as a draftsman and cartoonist respectively. He continued a career as a cartoonist and illustrator for publications such as Vanity Fair, New Masses, The Nation, Freiheit, and various Jewish and Hebrew publications for more than thirty years. Gropper's cartoons typically portrayed the everyday worker and the injustices he suffered.
Gropper, who was also a painter, produced powerful imagery of social protest. His subjects included industrial strikes and the labor wars of the coal mining and steel industries. Additionally, William Gropper received several commissions from the Federal Arts Project, Works Progress Administration to create murals for various public buildings around the country, including one for the United States Department of the Interior building in Washington, D.C. Here, he created Construction of the Dam to represent the combination of labor and technology to construct various dams on the Colorado River. The Guggenheim Foundation awarded a fellowship to Gropper to travel to the impoverished Dust Bowl region. This trip inspired a series of illustrations that appeared in The Nation. Gropper's trips to Russia and Poland also served to inspire his art.
Later in his career, William Gropper exhibited his artwork throughout the United States and the world. Gropper was also one of the originial members of the Artists Equity Association founded in 1947. Gropper's artwork can be found in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution, The National Gallery of Art, The Butler Institute of American Art, Princeton University, The Phillips Collection, The William J. Clinton Presidential Library as well as many other museums and universities. William Gropper remained in New York City and the surrounding area with his wife, Sophie until his death in 1977.
Among the holdings of the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview of William Gropper conducted by Bruce Hooton in 1965. The Louis Lozowick papers contain documentation of Lozowick's research and writings for a biography of Gropper.
The Special Collections Research Center at the Syracuse University Library also holds a collection of William Gropper's papers.
The collection was donated by Sophie Gropper, Gropper's widow, in 1984.
The collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website.
The William Gropper papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.