Alexander Liberman

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Alexander Liberman
Alexander liberman photo.jpg
Born Alexander Semeonovitch Liberman
(1912-09-04)September 4, 1912
Kiev, Ukraine, then in Russian Empire
Died November 19, 1999(1999-11-19) (aged 87)
Miami, Florida
Cause of death heart ailment
Nationality Russian
Citizenship United States (since 1946)
Education University School, Hastings, Sussex, England, 1921-22
St. Pirans School, Maidenhead, Berkshire, England, 1923-24
Ecole des Roches, 1924-27
Sorbonne, 1927-30, philosophy and mathematics,
studied painting, under André Lhote, Paris, 1931
Ecole Speciale d'Architecture, Paris, 1931-32 (under Auguste Perret)
École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, 1932-33
Occupation magazine editor, publisher
painter, photographer, sculptor
Employer Vogue magazine (1943-)
Condé Nast Publications (1960-1994)
Home town New York
Title Editorial Director
Spouse(s) Hildegarde Sturm (1936-??)
Tatiana Yacovleff du Plessix (1942-1991)
Melinda Pechangco (1992-1999)
Children Francine du Plessix Gray
stepdaughter, not adopted
Parent(s) Semeon Isayevich Liberman, a timber expert
Henriette Pascar, a theatrical dilettante
Alexander Liberman, Gate of Hope, painted steel, 1972, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Liberman's Two Circles (1950) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Alexander Semeonovitch Liberman (September 4, 1912 – November 19, 1999) was a Russian-American magazine editor, publisher, painter, photographer, and sculptor. He held senior artistic positions during his 32 years at Condé Nast Publications.

Life and career[edit]

When his father took a post advising the Soviet government, the family moved to Moscow. Life there became difficult, and his father secured permission from Lenin and the Politburo to take his son to London in 1921.

Young Liberman was educated in Russia, England, and France, where he took up life as a "White Émigré" in Paris.

He began his publishing career in Paris in 1933–36 with the early pictorial magazine Vu, where he worked under Lucien Vogel as art director, then managing editor, working with photographers such as Brassaï, André Kertész, and Robert Capa.[6]

After emigrating to New York in 1941, he began working for Condé Nast Publications, rising to the position of editorial director, which he held from 1962-1994.

Only in the 1950s did Liberman take up painting and, later, metal sculpture. His highly recognizable sculptures are assembled from industrial objects (segments of steel I-beams, pipes, drums, and such), often painted in uniform bright colors. In a 1986 interview concerning his formative years as a sculptor and his aesthetic, Liberman said, "I think many works of art are screams, and I identify with screams."[7] Prominent examples of his work are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Storm King Art Center, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park, Tate Gallery, and the Guggenheim Museum. His massive work "The Way", a 65 feet (20 m) x 102 feet (31 m) x 100 feet (30 m) structure,[8] is made of eighteen salvaged steel oil tanks, and became a signature piece of Laumeier Sculpture Park,[9] and a major landmark of St. Louis, Missouri.[10][11]

He was married briefly to Hildegarde Sturm (August 25, 1936), a model and competitive skier. His second wife (since 1942), Tatiana Yacovleff du Plessix Liberman (1906–1991), had been a childhood playmate and baby sitter. In 1941, they escaped together from occupied France, via Lisbon, to New York. She had operated a hat salon in Paris, then designed hats for Henri Bendel in Manhattan. She continued in millinery at Saks Fifth Avenue where she was billed as "Tatania du Plessix" or "Tatania of Saks", until the mid-1950s.[12] In 1992, he married Melinda Pechangco, a nurse who had cared for Tatiana during an early illness. His stepdaughter, Francine du Plessix Gray, is a noted author.


  • part-time design assistant to A. M. Cassandre for approximately three months, Paris, 1930[6]
  • full-time painter since 1936
  • Served in the French Army, 1940
  • photographer since 1949
  • sculptor since 1958
  • Vogue magazine, Manhattan, Condé Nast hired Liberman as an assistant to Vogue art director Mehemed Fehmy Agha, who had just fired him. In 1943 Liberman succeeded Agha as the magazine's art director.[6]
    • layout artist, 1941–43
    • Vogue art director, 1943
    • Vogue art director, 1944–61, published Lee Miller's photographs of the Buchenwald gas chambers.[6]
    • editorial director, from 1962, Condé Nast Publications, United States and Europe, deputy chairman (Editorial) 1994-99[13]
  • numerous exhibitions of paintings and sculptures



  • La Femme Française dans l'Art, 1936 (in French)
  • (editor and designer) The Art and Technique of Color Photography: A Treasury of Color Photographs by the Staff Photographers of Vogue, House & Garden, Glamour, introduction by Aline B. Louchheim, Simon & Schuster (New York), 1951
  • The World in Vogue, Compiled by the Viking Press and Vogue ; Editors for Viking: Bryan Holme and Katharine Tweed ; Editors for Vogue: Jessica Daves and Alexander Liberman, New York : Viking Press, 1963
  • The Artist in His Studio, foreword by James Thrall Soby, Viking Press (New York), 1960, revised edition, Random House (New York), 1988
  • (photographer) Greece, Gods, and Art, introduction by Robert Graves, commentaries by Iris C. Love, Viking Press (New York), 1968
  • Painting and Sculpture, 1950–1970 (exhibition), Garamond/Pridemark Press (Baltimore, Maryland), 1970
  • Introduction to Vogue Book of Fashion Photography 1919-1979, by Polly Devlin (New York), 1979
  • Marlene: An Intimate Photographic Memoir, Random House (New York), 1992
  • (photographer) Campidoglio: Michelangelo's Roman Capitol, essay by Joseph Brodsky, Random House (New York), 1994
  • (photographer) Then: Photographs, 1925–1995, preface by Calvin Tomkins, selected and designed by Charles Churchward, Random House (New York), 1995




  1. ^ Carmody, Deirdre (1999-11-20). "Alexander Liberman, Condé Nast's Driving Creative Force, Is Dead at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  2. ^ Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2008. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. Fee. Accessed 2008-11-02. Entry updated: 12/07/2006. Document Number: H1000059908.
  3. ^ "Alexander Liberman." Contemporary Photographers, 3rd ed. St. James Press, 1996. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. Updated: 09/19/2002. Fee. Accessed 2008-11-02. Document Number: K1653000394.
  4. ^ "Alexander Semeonovitch Liberman."The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Volume 5: 1997-1999. Charles Scribner's Sons, 2002. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. Fee. Accessed 2008-11-02. Document Number not given.
  5. ^ "Alexander Liberman." Contemporary Artists, 5th ed. St. James Press, 2001. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. Updated: 10/01/2001. Fee. Accessed 2008-11-02. Document Number: K1636001282
  6. ^ a b c d Morris, Susan (Autumn 1993). "There's no art in magazines". Eye. Quantum publishing. Archived from the original on 2007-10-10. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  7. ^ Liberman, Alexander. "Alexander Liberman", [BOMB Magazine] Summer, 1986. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  8. ^ "Restoration of 'The Way' underway". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. September 27, 2011. Archived from the original on August 14, 2012. Retrieved August 13, 2012. 
  9. ^ "The Way, 1972-80". Laumeier Sculpture Park. Archived from the original on August 14, 2012. Retrieved August 13, 2012. 
  10. ^ Silva, Eddie (January 19, 2000). "Queen Beej". The Riverfront Times. Archived from the original on August 14, 2012. Retrieved August 13, 2012. 
  11. ^ Keaggy, Diane Toroian (September 21, 2011). "Iconic Laumeier sculpture 'The Way' to be restored". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Archived from the original on August 14, 2012. Retrieved August 13, 2012. 
  12. ^ Gray, Francine du Plessix (1995-05-08). "Growing up Fashionable". The New Yorker. p. 54. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  13. ^ "Obituary: Alexander Liberman". The Independent. Retrieved 2016-04-08. 
  14. ^

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