Legendary Editorial Director of Condé Nast Alexander Liberman

Photographed by Horst P. Horst, Vogue, May 15th, 1941

Photographed by Horst P. Horst, Vogue, May 15th, 1941

“My friend, it’s Modern,” Alexander Liberman, the legendary Editorial Director of Condé Nast, would say whenever someone challenged his judgment. In fact, his love affair with Modernism informed his twin vocations, as publishing kingmaker and as an artist. Surveying the protean accomplishments of this relentlessly charming man, It’s Modern.: The Eye and Visual Influence of Alexander Liberman (Rizzoli), by Charles Churchward (a former Design Director at Vogue and Vanity Fair), offers graphic proof of the consistency of his vision, which married the iconoclasm of Russian Constructivism with old-world savoir faire and American know-how. It is also a disciple’s affectionate tribute to an elusive master.

Photographed by Irving Penn, 1948

Photographed by Irving Penn, 1948

Born in Kiev in 1912, Liberman attended European boarding schools but learned more from his actress mother’s Parisian circle, which included Cocteau and Léger. After his studies, he landed a job at VU, where his collage-like covers grabbed the spotlight. On the Riviera, Liberman met fellow émigré Tatiana du Plessix. The story of their escape from war-torn Europe makes for compelling reading. But so does the reinvention of this couple in New York, where Tatiana designed hats for Saks, and Alex rose rapidly through the ranks at Condé Nast. Liberman went on to take a treasure trove of photographs of artists he admired, from Marlene Dietrich to Alexander Calder. That he also found time, while infusing Vogue with new talent (e.g., Irving Penn), relaunching Vanity Fair, and the like, to pursue a career as an artist is remarkable. Liberman’s paintings and monumental steel sculptures were collected by major museums. The critics, however, largely ignored him. Certainly his Circlist paintings are ripe for reevaluation. Visually enthralling, they are infused with an almost mystical authority—as smoothly ungraspable, in their way, as Liberman himself.

Here is a selection of Liberman’s covers and spread for Vogue:

Photographed by Erwin Blumenfeld, Vogue, November 1, 1944

Photographed by Erwin Blumenfeld, Vogue, November 1, 1944

Photographed by Irving Penn, Vogue, May 1, 1946

Photographed by Irving Penn, Vogue, May 1, 1946

Illustration by Rene Gruau, Vogue, September 15, 1949

Illustration by Rene Gruau, Vogue, September 15, 1949

Photographed by Erwin Blumenfeld, Vogue, January 1, 1950

Photographed by Erwin Blumenfeld, Vogue, January 1, 1950

Photographed by Erwin Blumenfeld, Vogue, March 1, 1951

Photographed by Erwin Blumenfeld, Vogue, March 1, 1951

Photographed by Horst P. Horst, Vogue, September 1, 1953

Photographed by Horst P. Horst, Vogue, September 1, 1953

Photographed by Clifford Coffin, Vogue, December 1, 1954

Photographed by Clifford Coffin, Vogue, December 1, 1954

Photographed by Gjon Mili, Vogue, January 1, 1944

Photographed by Gjon Mili, Vogue, January 1, 1944

Photographed by Clifford Coffin, Vogue, May 1, 1945

Photographed by Clifford Coffin, Vogue, May 1, 1945

Photographed by Irving Penn, Vogue, February 15, 1949

Photographed by Irving Penn, Vogue, February 15, 1949

Photographed by Clifford Coffin, Vogue, June 1, 1949

Photographed by Clifford Coffin, Vogue, June 1, 1949

Photographed by Cecil Beaton, Vogue, April 1, 1950

Photographed by Cecil Beaton, Vogue, April 1, 1950

Photographed by Clifford Coffin, Vogue, September 1, 1953

Photographed by Clifford Coffin, Vogue, September 1, 1953

Illustrations by Arno Sternglass, Vogue, November 15, 1959

Illustrations by Arno Sternglass, Vogue, November 15, 1959

Illustrations by Mary Suzuki, Vogue, November 15, 1960

Illustrations by Mary Suzuki, Vogue, November 15, 1960

 

 

Source vogue.com

 

2 comments

  1. I absolutely love some of the old fashion magazine’s cover designs! I like the simplicity of the design, the soft, pastel colours and that it is not clattered with lots of text but with small fonts to complete the composition. I’m a big fan of anything retro too! Lovely blog – well done!

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