Aline Meyer Liebman 1879-1966. American painter, photographer, collector and patron.
|Aline Meyer Liebman|
(photograph from the cover of
her daughter's book)
Aline recorded in her diary on 11 December1942, that Max Ernst and Peggy Guggenheim visited her studio to choose a painting for the forthcoming Exhibition by 31 Women. This was unusual, Ernst is usually said to have visited the women artists alone and although Peggy and Aline probably knew each other, there is no indication that they were more than acquaintances. Also unusual was this particular artist's reluctance to lend the pictures they wanted.
Aline was preparing for a one woman show at the Weyhe Gallery which would coincide the Exhibition by 31 Women. Unlike many of the younger artists involved, Aline was not a beginner, nor was she an unknown in need of the publicity which came with association with Peggy's fashionable gallery, She herself eventually selected 'Story in Paint' as the most suitable. This was an abstract painted eight years earlier - a triptych painted on Masonite, it reveals that she was not averse to experiments with abstraction and modern materials.
Story in Paint was exhibited again in 1947 at Aline’s last solo exhibition at the Weyhe Gallery. It seems to have been exhibited again, with nine of her other paintings, at the Richard York Gallery, New York City, before being donated in 1992 to the Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona. It is not on display and its whereabouts are currently certain.
drawing lessons. She then attended the Art Students’ League where she learned portraiture, which would form a significant aspect of her output as a painter. She also learned tempera painting with renowned teacher Stephan Hirsch. A portrait of Aline by Hirsch has a hard edged, colour block style, this style influenced some of Aline’s own painting.
Aline Meyer began collecting art in her teens and developed a passion for modern decorative craft
work and Oriental art several years before her marriage, in 1908, to Charley Liebman. Their daughter Margaret Liebman Berger, published a monograph on her mother’s art, patronage and collecting in 1982 (see below). As well as fine art paintings, prints and sculpture, Aline collected fine modern examples of furniture, textiles, glassware, china, jewellery and books. Although her collecting provided invaluable support for numerous artists, this is not the main reason her enthusiasm for the arts was so important. Most significantly for posterity, Aline also studied photography at the Clarence White School of Photography.
Stieglitz moved his New York gallery a number of times, each time it reappeared under a new name, its best known incarnation was An American Place. Aline continually provided unstinting support and through him she also supported individual artists and photographers. In addition to Stieglitz’ own work, she collected early photographs by Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Edward Steichen and Paul Strand. As a pioneer in the collecting of early twentieth century photographs, in 1978 her acquisitions were acknowledged as of national importance by Beaumont Newhall, curator at MoMA in NewYork.
Despite many distractions, Aline still enjoyed painting and her daughter remembered that she spent two or more hours each morning in her studio. She sketched and painted prolifically during extended visits to Europe between 1925 and 1935 and she took part in several group exhibitions with the Salons of America. Her work shows the effect of her European visits, particularly influential were the outlines and vivid colour in the work of Gauguin and Matisse.
Aline's enthusiasm for the modern idiom had led her to be a founder of the New York based MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), contributing at its inception in 1929 with both finance and her time. In 1934 she assisted with the museum’s outreach project in Westchester, loaning items from her collection to exhibitions. She served on various of the museum’s committees for many years and remained concerned with the practical expansion of MoMA’s remit including, in 1948, a substantial donation specifically for the purchase of photographic work by younger artists.
Her photographs are held in the Library of Congress, Coville Collection and the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, her paintings are mainly in private hands. Aline Meyer Liebman' greatest legacy lies in her unstinting support of Steiglitz, the man who kick-started the USA’s creation of its own modern art and photography and in her vital early support for the New York Museum of Modern Art, culminating in the internationally important MoMA of today.
Margaret Liebman Berger - "Aline Meyer Liebman; Pioneer Collector and Artist" published in 1982 by W.F. Humphrey Press.
The Aline Meyer Liebman Papers in the Smithsonian - http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/aline-meyer-liebman-papers-9850
Comments, corrections and further information about Aline Meyer Liebman are very welcome. I would like to know her exact birth-date and the whereabouts of her picture, Story in Paint. Please do contact me!
You can read about the remaining members of the 31 Women as their birthdays arrive, only four left now! Earlier artists will remain on this blog.