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.
Art dealers -- New York (State) -- New York Search this
0.3 Linear feet ((partially microfilmed on 6 reels))
Scope and Contents:
Biographical material, correspondence (1920-1977), diaries, notes and writings, art works, subject files (1939-1968), printed material (1919-1971), and photographs (1919-1929) document Geissbuhler's artistic activities in Paris and New England.
Reels 1267-1268: Many letters (1920-1971), written by Geissbuhler to his wife Elisabeth Chase Geissbuhler, are illustrated. Other correspondents include Adelyn Breeskin, Margaret Browne, Edward W. Forbes, and A. Conger Goodyear. Art works consist of 26 sketchbooks (1915-1962), annotated in French and English, and over 600 figure studies (1922-1970). Printed material includes a Sculptors' Guild brochure, art course announcements (1958), and clippings (1924-1971). Other materials consist of 2 autobiographical accounts, an award from the Cambridge Centennial Exhibition (1946), an address book and calling cards.
Reel 1271: Printed material includes reproductions of Geissbuhler's work, an advertisement for the Academie Julian (1919), an exhibition announcement (1921), and a clipping (1925). Photographs (1919-1922) and a photograph album (1921-1929) contain images of Geissbuhler in his studio, his works, his family, and friends including Otto Banninger, Antoine Bourdelle, Alberto Giacometti, his father Giovanni Giacometti, and Germaine Richier. Sixteen photographs show art classes, primarily Bourdelle's classes (1919-1922), and Charles Graffley's studio (1921). Other materials consist of biographical notes, an award certificate and 4 sketches (1918).
Reel 1331: Correspondence consists of letters received from Antoine and Rhoda Bourdelle (1921-1977) and general correspondence concerning art business matters (1927-1971). A diary in 8 volumes (1921-1922) contains some illustrated entries. Printed material (1934-1971) consists of 40 exhibition catalogs, 8 clippings, and a school brochure. Four loose sketches are undated. Seven subject files concerning Geissbuhler's sculpture projects contain letters, business records, notes, and clippings.
Reel 1813: Photographs of Geissbuhler's work and one of his house, ca. 1924-1933.
Unfilmed: Letters (1937-1941) concern Geissbuhler's work for the WPA, Treasury Department, and the Federal Works Agency, primarily the Medford project and the Foxboro, Massachusetts, post office project. Other material consists of 3 forms, 2 exhibition catalogs, a press release concerning government projects, 2 rolled charcoal drawings and 2 photographs of the sculptural relief "Straw Cutting and Weaving" from the Foxboro, Massachusetts post office project, and notes.
Biographical / Historical:
Sculptor; Dennis, Mass. Born in Delemont, Switzerland. In 1914, Geissbuhler traveled to Zurich to become a sculptor's apprentice in the studio of Otto Munch. He attended the Kunst Gewerbe School and worked as Munch's assistant until 1919. In that year, Geissbuhler went to Paris to study with Antoine Bourdelle at the Academie Julian. He maintained a studio in Paris until 1927, when he travelled to the United States and married Elisabeth Chase, a Boston sculptor whom he met in Bourdelle's class. They moved to New England in 1933, and in 1937 he became an art instructor at Wellesley College.
Material on reels 1267-1268, 1271, 1331 and 1813 lent for microfilming 1977-1978; unmicrofilmed material donated 1984 all by Arnold Geissbuhler.
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. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Catalog of a selection of nine paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir from the studios of Durand-Ruel, inc. : supplemented by a selection of paintings of the French modern school from the collection of A.C. Goodyear, and other single loans, also important examples of French art in the permanent collection, the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, Albright Art Gallery, June-July-August, 1928