Alexander Liberman, Russian tsar of New York
‘Creativity without waste is impossible’ — Alexander Liberman
Alexander Liberman was a prominent representative of the American intelligentsia, Russian emigre, who changed the pop culture of the twentieth century; the king and god of the publishing house Cond? Nast.
The Russian-American magazine editor, publisher, painter, photographer, and sculptor was born on September 4, 1912.
In 1921, the Libermans fled from Moscow.
Young Liberman was educated in Russia, England, and France. He studied mathematics and philosophy at Sorbonne in Paris and architecture at the School of Fine Arts in London.
In Paris Alexander fell in love with Tatiana Yacovleff du Plessix, who was six years older and married. Their love affair began when the Viscount du Plessis was alive.
In 1940 Viscount was killed by Nazis.
Alexander, Tatiana and her daughter Francine fled first to the south of France, and then to New York, the city where Lieberman was destined to become a ruthless and ironic shark of bohemian world.
He began his publishing career in Paris with the early pictorial magazine Vu, where he worked under Lucien Vogel and with photographers such as Brassai, Andre Kertesz, and Robert Capa.
In 1941 Alexander got a job as an art editor at a women’s fashion magazine of all time “Vogue”, rising to the position of editorial director of Cond? Nast Publications, which he held from 1962-1994.
Conde Nast Publications produces world-famous magazines including “Conde Nast Traveler”, “The New Yorker”, “Vanity Fair”, “Glamour”, “GQ” and more than a dozen others.
Many prominent persons worked for Conde Nast magazines: Dali, Chagall, Georges Braque, Robert Rauschenberg, and other titans.
Liberman became one of the most powerful influences on the American audience for fashion in the middle decades of the 20th century.
Every summer, since 1947 till 1959, Alexander went to Europe to visit the studios of European artists. Spending long hours in the studios and ateliers, he made thousands of photos and notes. As a result, Lieberman published a completely unique book “The Artist in His Studio”, in which he spoke not only as a photographer but as a writer.
In the early 1990s, he published a book of photos of Marlene Dietrich “Marlen: An Intimate photographic Memoir”, and in 1995 – a photo album with the intriguing title “Then” (photos of his family, friends, colleagues – sculptors and painters, poets and writers, musicians and actors).
Alexander’s stepdaughter, Francine du Plessix Gray, wrote a book about her famous parents “Them: A Memoir of Parents” (2005).
Alexander’s wife, Tatiana Yacovleff du Plessix Liberman was the most famous hat designer in postwar America, known for a generation as “Tatiana of Saks”.
She came to Paris to live with relatives in the 1920s. During her stay in Paris she met a poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, who promptly fell in love with Tatiana. Later, after his unavoidable return to Russia, Mayakovsky committed suicide. This was the great grief of Tatiana’s life, one that threw a shadow over the legendary marital passion between her and Alexander.
A year after his wife’s death, in 1992, 80-year-old Liberman married Melinda Pechangco, a nurse who had cared for Tatiana during an early illness.
Bohemian king of New York dotted the i’s: “For the first time in my life I wanted to feel helpless”.
He had seven years to drink the new feeling to the bottom.
Alex Liberman kept working until he reached 80 years old, and even founded a magazine Allure, which became one of the most popular in America.
He died on November 17, 1999.