Erica Williams and Barbara Aikens
Scope and Contents
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. Additional 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.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Alexander Liberman papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Liberman Art Partners in 2010 via Dodie Kazanjian.
Related collections found at the Archives of American Art include the Dodie Kazanjian and Calvin Tomkins research materials on Alexander Liberman and numerous collections of gallery records.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care and Preservation Fund.
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.