Halpert kept working until her death in 1970, after which the gallery quickly shuttered because she hadn’t designated a business heir and didn’t have any descendants. A few years later, her personal art collection—around 400 works by American modernists she’d either been gifted or bought herself over the years—was sold at auction and dispersed. Some of those works have been reunited at the Jewish Museum as part of “Edith Halpert and the Rise of American Art.”
Halpert’s legacy is a bit like a firework colored red, white, and blue, bursting in all directions. There are the artists she supported when American art was still considered second-rate; the space she carved out for women in the New York art scene; a diverse redefinition of American art; and her advocacy for placing artworks in museums—so that now, almost a century later, there are countless places in New York to see American contemporary art.