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Alexander Liberman papers, circa 1912-2003

Alexander Liberman papers, circa 1912-2003

Liberman, Alexander Semeonovitch, 1912-1999

Sculptor, Painter, Photographer, Graphic designer, Publisher

Collection Information

Size: 59.0 linear feet

Summary: The papers of sculptor, painter, and publishing executive Alexander Semeonovitch Liberman date from circa 1913-2003 and measure 59 linear feet. Found within the papers are biographical materials; correspondence with family, galleries, museums, and many artists; numerous recorded interviews and transcripts with and by Liberman, including one of Walter Hopps; writings and writing project files; extensive subject files maintained by Liberman; exhibition files; printed materials; scattered drawings; and extensive photographs of Liberman's artwork, exhibitions, Liberman, and of Liberman with notable artists, dealers, collectors, and critics. Many of the photographs were taken by noted photograhers. Also found within the papers are unidentified sound and video recordings. Other sound and video recordings have been integrated into other series.

Biographical materials include awards, biographies and chronologies, family history materials, membership cards, writings by Liberman's mother, and a scrapbook about his father.

Correspondence is extensive and concerns both personal and professional affairs. It is with artists and photographers, art magazines, organizations and museums, art collectors, businesses, and family. Notable correspondents include Cecil Beaton, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Burt Chernow, Salvador Dali, Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, Barnett and Annalee Newman. Additional correspondence is found within the subject files compiled and organized by Liberman (series 6).

There are sound and video recordings and transcripts of interviews with and by Liberman, most completed for broadcast television and radio shows. Of particular interest are sound cassettes, a sound tape reel, and a transcript of an interview with Walter Hopps by Liberman.

Writings by Liberman include essays, short stories, and a play entitled, "2+1". Writing project files were organized by Liberman for writing projects for which he was the author, collaborator, or subject. There are numerous files concerning Barbara Rose's book about Liberman, "Alexander Liberman," that also include recorded interviews with Liberman and transcripts. Other books for which there are files include, "The Art and Technique of Color Photography," "The Artist in His Studio," "Vogue: The First 100 Years," "Vogue History of Fashion Photography," and others.

Subject files were organized by Liberman for a wide variety of work projects, activities, topics, and entities of interest. Files cover commissions, the filming and distribution of the 1981 documentary film, "Alexander Liberman: A Lifetime Burning," Liberman's personal collection of art, gifts of artwork, and his relationship with galleries and dealers, particularly André Emmerich Gallery.

Exhibition files document exhibitions of Liberman's artwork, and include those held at André Emmerich Gallery, Bennington College, the Guggenheim, Museum of Modern Art, among other venues. Files contain correspondence, contracts, photographs, plans and drawings, notes, etc. Also found are inventory records of Liberman's artwork in the form of lists, index cards, bound registers, and notes.

Ten linear feet of printed materials include exhibition announcements and catalogs, books and book flyers, brochures, calendars, clippings, postcards, posters, press releases, and other materials.

There are scattered drawings and sketches found within the papers, some of which are sketches of sculpture pieces.

Nearly one-half of the collection is comprised of photographs of Liberman and his artwork, and of artists and colleagues, many of which were taken by noted photographers, including Cecil Beaton, Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Klein, Henri Lartique, Annie Leibowitz, Inge Morath, Ugo Mulas, Hans Namuth, Helmut Newton, Gordon Parks, Irving Penn, Herb Ritts, and Lord Snowden, among others. Subjects of note found in the photographs include Alfred Barr, Salvador Dali, Marlene Dietrich, Willem de Kooning, Andre Emmerich, Helen Frankenthaler, Clement Greenberg, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Betty Parsons, Pablo Piccaso, Edward Steichen, Lucien Vogel, and Diana Vreeland, among many others.

Biographical/Historical Note

Alexander Semeonovitch Liberman (1912-1999) was a sculptor, painter, photographer, graphic designer, writer, and publishing executive who worked primarily in New York City.


The Alexander Liberman papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Liberman Art Partners in 2010 via Dodie Kazanjian.

Related Materials


Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care Pool Fund.

A Finding Aid to the Alexander Liberman Papers, circa 1912-2003, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical/Historical note
Alexander S. Liberman (1912-1999) was a sculptor, painter, photographer, graphic designer, writer, and publishing executive who worked primarily in New York City. He held senior positions at Condé Nast Publications for 32 years.
Alexander Semeonovitch Liberman was born in 1912 in Kiev Russia. He was educated in London and the École des Beaux Art in Paris. He began his journalistic career in Paris at
magazine owned by Lucien Vogel and there he befriended photographers Henri Cartier-Bresson, Brassai, Robert Capa, and André Kértesz. He served in the French army for a short time in 1940, but he and his family fled Paris in 1941 to New York City. Condé Nast hired Liberman in 1941 as an assistant to the art director of
magazine. Liberman became art director in 1943 and editorial director of Condé Nast Publications in 1962, a position he held until his retirement in 1994.
Liberman was also a photographer whose subjects included Georges Braque, Alexander Calder, Alberto Giacometti, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Marlene Dietrich, among others, many represented in his 1960 book entitled
The Artist in his Studio
Marlene: An Intimate Photographic Memoir
(1992). He was also the subject of the work of noted photographers Cecil Beaton, Irving Penn, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Gordon Parks, Lord Snowden, Jill Krementz, Henri Lartique, Annie Leibovitz, and Hans Namuth.
Liberman took up painting and sculpting in the 1950s. Although his first exhibition was at the Betty Parsons Gallery, he was primarily associated with the André Emmerich Gallery in New York City. His monumental sculptures were mostly assembled from industrial parts and painted and can be seen in museums and public sites worldwide.
Liberman was briefly married to Hildegarde Sturm. He married his second wife Tatiana Yacovleff du Plessix in 1942. Before their marriage, they fled occupied France together. She was a noted hat designer, working for Henri Bendel and Saks, where she became known as Tatiania of Saks. She died in 1991 and, in 1992, Liberman married Melinda Pechangco, a nurse who had earlier cared for Tatiania. Alexander Liberman died in 1999 in Miami, Florida.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged into twelve series. Photographs retain Liberman's original numerical and alpha schemas and the corresponding indexes are found in the Inventory Records in Series 8.
Series 1: Biographical Materials, circa 1930s-1999 (1 linear foot; Box 1, 56)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1944-1997 (4 linear feet; Boxes 1-5, 56, OV 65)
Series 3: Interviews, 1946-1996 (1.4 linear feet; Boxes 5-7, 56)
Series 4: Writings, 1948-1995 (0.9 linear feet; Boxes 7-8)
Series 5: Writing Project Files, 1951-1997 (1.8 linear feet; Boxes 8-9, 56)
Series 6: Subject Files, 1946-2000 (6 linear feet; Boxes 9-15, 56, OV 66-67)
Series 7: Exhibition Files, 1954-1991 (0.7 linear feet; Boxes 15-16, 56, OV 68)
Series 8: Inventory Records, 1938-1998 (6 linear feet; Boxes 16-22)
Series 9: Printed Materials, 1932-2003 (10 linear feet; Boxes 22-31, 56-57, OV 69)
Series 10: Artwork, circa 1940s-1990s (0.4 linear feet; Boxes 32, 57, OV 70)
Series 11: Photographic Materials, circa 1912-1999 (26 linear feet; Boxes 32-55, 57-64, OVs 71-77)
Series 12: Unidentified Sound and Video Recordings, circa 1941-1999 (0.8 linear feet; Boxes 55, 64)
The Alexander Liberman papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Liberman Art Partners in 2010 via Dodie Kazanjian.
Processing Information note
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Erica Williams and Barbara Aikens in 2015 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund. The Archives of American Art has implemented accelerated processing strategies when possible in order to increase access to more of our collections in a shorter amount of time. Accelerated processing tactics included arranging the collection to the series and folder level. Generally items within folders were not further arranged and simply verified against folder titles. The collection was fully rehoused in archival containers and folders, but not all staples and paper clips were removed.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Alexander Liberman papers, circa 1912-2003. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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