ALEXANDER LIBERMAN

1912 - 1999 / Russian

Alexander Liberman was born in 1912 in Kiev Russia. His father was in the timber business and his mother was involved in the Russian theater. In 1921 the Libermans left the Soviet Union, and Alexander studied first in London and then in Paris. He took courses in philosophy and mathematics at the Sorbonne and architecture at Ecole des Beaux-Arts. In the 1930s Liberman designed stage sets, worked briefly with a landscape architect, and worked on the staff of “Vu,” the first magazine illustrated with photographs. Consequently, he became friends with Cartier-Bresson, Brassaï and Kertesz. Liberman began his publishing career as an assistant in the art department, moved on to become art director, then managing director. He even used a nom de plume to write their film reviews. In 1936 Liberman left the magazine and devoted himself to painting, writing and filmmaking.

By the mid-1950s, Liberman was exhibiting his own paintings and photographs in galleries and museums around New York. In 1959 Liberman learned to weld steel and he quickly began making sculpture on a scale that required industrial machinery. 

One of his first public commissions was from the architect Philip Johnson for a pavilion at the 1963 World’s Fair. Other important commissions quickly followed, and over the next decade he purchased additional equipment and hired additional personnel to meet the increasing demand for and scale of his sculpture. In this sense his “day job” was supporting his passion for making large public sculpture.

Alexander Liberman died in November, 1999 at the age of 87. His sculpture and painting are included in the collections of some of the world’s most prestigious museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Museum of Modern Art, the Corcoran, Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In addition, Storm King Art Center, the most important contemporary sculpture park in America, has three monumental Liberman sculptures in its collection. His public sculpture can be seen in over 40 cities around the world, including three that are located in Los Angeles.