Alex: The Life and Art of Alexander Liberman

Alex: The Life and Art of Alexander Liberman

by Dodie Kazanjian, Calvin Tomkins
     
 

Brilliant, elegant, and shy, Alexander Liberman was twenty-eight when he left war-torn Europe in 1940 to make a new start in New York. This is the fascinating biography of the Russian-born painter, sculptor, and photographer who - from 1943 to 1962 as art director of Vogue and from 1962 to the present as editorial director of all Conde Nast magazines - has been the… See more details below

Overview

Brilliant, elegant, and shy, Alexander Liberman was twenty-eight when he left war-torn Europe in 1940 to make a new start in New York. This is the fascinating biography of the Russian-born painter, sculptor, and photographer who - from 1943 to 1962 as art director of Vogue and from 1962 to the present as editorial director of all Conde Nast magazines - has been the mysterious and legendary force responsible for shaping the look and content of the most powerful magazine publishing empire in the world. Having witnessed the Bolshevik revolution as a child in St. Petersburg, he spent his turbulent youth in Moscow, London, and Paris, where evenings at home included, among others, Leger, Cocteau, Chagall, and Bronislava Nijinska. His life would be marked by two strong and exotic women: his mother, Henriette Pascar, who would push him to paint, and his second wife, Tatiana, who would push him to succeed. Here is the inside story of Conde Nast, the publishing colossus that has played such an influential role in defining American culture. For half a century, Liberman has overseen the editorial content, from articles to layout, of Vogue, House & Garden, Glamour, and all the other Conde Nast magazines. He was also an important catalyst for the careers of photographers Irving Penn, Erwin Blumenfeld, Andre Kertesz, William Klein, Helmut Newton, and Deborah Turbeville. Here, too, is the New York art world in which Liberman was able to establish a separate and important career: openings at the Betty Parsons and Andre Emmerich galleries; friendships with Barnett Newman, Robert Motherwell, and Helen Frankenthaler, as well as the cream of New York's Russian society and artists-in-exile - Valentina, Iva Patcevitch, Joseph Brodsky, and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Dodie Kazanjian and Calvin Tomkins not only evoke a fascinating portrait of a man who has contributed to the worlds of high fashion, publishing, and art, but also give us an incisive look into a hugely successful media empire an

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Suave, urbane Russian-born painter/sculptor/photographer Alexander Liberman, editorial director of Conde Nast magazines, has divided his energies between the worlds of serious art and high fashion. This sedulously researched biography pays tribute to all sides of the man. Growing up in Moscow, London and Paris (his father was an architect of Lenin's New Economic Policy), Liberman overcame the ``overwhelming erotic presence'' of his domineering sensualist mother, Henriette Pascar, who paraded countless lovers in front of him. In New York City he and second wife Tatiana became prominent figures in a social set whose orbit encompassed Mikhail Baryshnikov, Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Motherwell and dress designer Valentina. Freelance journalist Kazanjian and New Yorker writer Tomkins provide an intimate glimpse of infighting within the Conde Nast empire, including Liberman's clash with Vogue editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland. The authors deem Liberman's abstract paintings a forerunner of Minimalism and also spotlight his monumental welded-metal sculptures. Photos. (Oct.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Liberman is the editorial director of the Conde Nast magazine publishing empire, which includes Vogue , Glamour , Vanity Fair , House & Garden , and so many others. Having joined Vogue in 1941, this 80-year-old, Russian-born emigre has lived an incredible life at the helm of the fashion publishing world, where he has defined elegance and glamour to millions of readers. As if that was not enough, he is a noted artist, sculptor, and photographer whose avant-garde works adorn galleries, public places, and museums. Barbara Rose's monograph Alexander Liberman ( LJ 2/1/82. o.p.) documents his artistic career. His own book, The Artist in His Studio ( LJ 1/89. rev. ed.), received high acclaim for the perceptive photographs and text. Here Liberman's talents and charms are aptly showcased, along with marvelous portrayals of an overbearing second wife and a bizarre mother. This is an engrossing biography that should have broad appeal in public libraries.-- Joan Levin, MLS, Chicago
Alice Joyce
This biography of an artist's long, productive life reads like compelling fiction. An often turbulent childhood in St. Petersburg and London prepared Liberman for married life with the flamboyant Tatiana; extravagance and excess were the norm for these colorful Russian emigres who became very visible members of New York's cafe society. Kazanjian and Tomkins present a full account of Liberman's virtuoso career as editorial director of Conde Nast's magazine empire and reveal the considerable accomplishments of Liberman the artist. A photographer of merit, Liberman is arguably best known as the creator of monumental artworks that during the 1970s appeared across the country in prominent public spaces. (His work as a painter and sculptor was displayed in highly respected galleries but never garnered the approval of critics.) What emerges most forcefully in this substantive and at times deliciously gossipy account is Liberman's vacillation between his lofty editorial position in fashion and publishing (as "Vogue"'s great arbiter of taste) and his role as a talented artist who worked only on weekends. Liberman emerges as a modern-day Renaissance man-about-town.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780394579641
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/28/1993
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
385
Product dimensions:
6.66(w) x 9.53(h) x 1.28(d)

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