LIEBER, Hugh Gray (1896-1961); LIEBER, Lillian Rosanoff (1886-1986)
[Archive comprising an artist's book, original artwork, and published works]
Brooklyn: The Galois Institue of Mathematics and Art, Long Island University, 1936-1965. 8vo and various sizes.
A heartwarming archive of a mid-century husband-and-wife creative team, this collection centers on Hugh Gray Lieber's 1936 artist's book created as a Valentine's Day gift for his wife, Lillian Rosanoff Lieber, a well-known popularizer of math and science. Neither strictly Surrealist, nor comic-strip cartoonists, the Liebers show, as in William Steig and Wilhelm Reich's "Listen, Little Man," the communicative power of text and image used in tandem.
"I have studied with pleasure this new book . . . beautiful examples . . . illuminating. I am convinced that [Lieber's] original enterprise will get the recognition it so richly deserves." - Albert Einstein on the Liebers' The Education of T. C. Mits "Oh, what a delightful book! This is the clearest explanation of relativity available - and the most fun." - Walter Isaacson on the Liebers' The Einstein Theory of Relativity Hugh Gray Lieber was born in Maryville, Massachusetts. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1919 and earned an MA at Columbia University in 1923. Five years later, he joined the Mathematics Department at Long Island University, chairing the department from 1931 to 1945. Lieber joined the art department as well, and became Chair of the Art Department in 1945, and a full professor of art in 1947, before retiring in 1954. Lieber illustrated a number of well-received books in collaboration with his wife Lillian Rosanoff Lieber, including The Education of T. C. Mits (1942) and Mits, Wits and Logic (1947). Their books were humorous popularizations of mathematical concepts, the first of which received the above praise from Albert Einstein. Lieber also illustrated Theodore Dreiser's book Moods (1935). Lillian Rosanoff Lieber, Hugh's wife, was a mathematician and author. Lillian graduated from Barnard College in 1908, earned an MA in Mathematics from Columbia University in 1911, and a PhD in Chemistry from Clark University in 1914. She was among the first generation of women mathematicians to hold academic positions, becoming the head of the physics department at Wells College in Aurora, New York, and teaching at the Connecticut College for Women. She then joined the math department at Long Island University in 1934 and later took over as Chair of the Department and head of the Galois Institute of Mathematics and Art at Long Island University in Brooklyn. Lillian and Hugh married on October 17th, 1926. Throughout their lives together, the Liebers published seventeen books, with Lillian's accessible, often poetic text illustrated by Hugh's surreal sketches. These popular science books, such as The Einstein Theory of Relativity (1949) and Infinity (1953), used a light-hearted tone and common verbiage to explain complicated mathematics and philosophy, making the topics accessible to a wide range of readers. The Liebers did much the same in the pages of The Atlantic, where Lillian's math quizzes were complemented by Hugh's engimatic illustrations. Their intention was to introduce mathematics to young people and teach them about the virtues of science, art, and mathematics ("SAM," as Lillian called them, before "STEM"), and their political and ethical implications. As a husband and wife team, the Liebers were remarkable, and this archive highlights the love, dedication, and shared talent between them. The archive comprises: 1.) An untitled manuscript with integral original watercolor drawings, prepared by Lieber as a Valentine's Day present for his wife. Brooklyn, NY: 1936. 60 leaves (6 3/8 x 4 3/4 inches). 1st leaf (verso): [This little book should be read / with the "inner eye" since its meaning is not a matter of fact / but of fancy / Hugh Gray Lieber] with address blindstamp beneath; 2nd leaf (recto): original pen and crayon drawing with integral dedication [to my Wife / St. Valentine Esq. / brings this little book / to you. / 1936]; 58 original pen, ink, and watercolor drawings on the rectos of 58 leaves, the titles to each drawing in ink on the verso of the preceding leaf. Italian olive Morocco gilt, the upper cover with gilt-tooled armorial over an onlay of black Morocco, spine in four compartments with raised bands. 2.) An associated 4 pp. note (6 3/4 x 4 1/2 inches): p. 1 with a printed illustration by Lieber in red and black with "Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Gray Lieber" printed beneath; p. 2 blank; p. 3 inscribed [A Merry Xmas / and / A happy New Year / to / Maria & Jim Barnet / from / Mrs. Hugh Gray Lieber]; p. 4 blank. Folded. 3.) An original mock-up for "Drawings by Hugh Gray Lieber, New York, 1963" using cut-up and pasted-on printed text and reproductions of original drawings. 48 pp. (7 x 5 1/4 inches). pp. 1-2: half-title (with a printed photographic portrait of the artist on the verso); pp. 3-4: title with vignette (copyright notice on verso, dated 1963, but changed in pencil to 1965); p. 5: facsimile of Lieber's handwriting; pp. 6-8: "Foreword" by Lillian Lieber; pp. 9-10: list of illustrations; p. 11: section titled "Drawings in Color"; pp. 12-27: reproductions of 8 drawings (3 colored), each with title on preceding page; p. 28: blank; p. 29: section titled "Drawings in black and white"; pp. 30-45: reproductions of 16 drawings, each with title in facsimile manuscript beneath; p. 46: blank; p. 47: colophon "Five [changed in pencil to one] hundred copies / Reproduced in offset and collotype by / The Meriden Gravure Company / Color reproductions hand-colored by / The Maria Bittner Studio / Designed by Joseph T. Weller." Loosely inserted are two alternative layouts for the title, and accompanying the mock-up is the original artwork for the vignette on the title page in pencil, pen, and black ink on thin paper [5 1/8 x 5 inches] mounted on card [8 1/2 x 5 7/8 inches]. The mock-up includes 25 drawings, some of which were published in A Bouquet of Qwordoodles and Goodbye Mr. Man: Hello Mr. New-Man (see #4 and #5) while a number of the drawings that were to be colored came from the "Valentine manuscript" (see #1). The poignant foreword makes clear that this work was compiled by Lillian Lieber as a tribute to her husband who passed away before her: "My dearest, / my one and only husband - / The meaning has gone out of my life / since you left. / . . . But I must see to it that / your wonderful work, / . . . / shall not be lost . . ." 4.) Lieber, Hugh Gray. A Bouquet of Qwordoodles for Elarel. Brooklyn: The Galois Institute of Mathematics and Art, 1957. 9 x 7 inches. Unpaginated, pp. 40. 18 illustrations. Dedication, 16 poems on each verso, with an accompanying drawing on each recto. Bound in stiff blue paper, deckled. Hugh's dedication to Lillian: "Dear L. R. L., my wife forever, / A spring of joy / Where love doth all my heart employ. / Wondering mappily upon mearth's worth / I've gathered a bouquet for you / Of wild qwordoodles. / From feelds, mutual I trust, / To both our noodles. / Accept them and keep me too / Until together, we have walked the world / Quite thru." 5a.) Lieber, Hugh Gray, and Lillian Rosanoff Lieber. Goodbye Mr. Man: Hello Mr. New-Man. Brooklyn: The Galois Institute of Mathematics and Art, 1958 (copyright 1949). Preface and 12-page introduction by Lillian Rosanoff Lieber. 9 x 7 inches.  1-12  pp. 50. 26 illustrations; a list of other books by the Liebers (12). Bound in stiff paper, deckled. 5b.) Lieber, Hugh Gray, and Lillian Rosanoff Lieber. Good-bye Mr. Man, Hello Mr. NEWman, Brooklyn: Long Island University Press, 1949. Preface and 12-page introduction by Lillian Rosanoff Lieber. First edition. 14 1/2 x 11 inches.  1-12  13  pp. 70. 26 illustrations. A list of other books by the Liebers (7). Spiral-bound in stiff wrappers. 6.) An affecting original drawing (5 x 4 2/4 inches), depicting two figures embracing, who are styled as if made from bricks, ink on paper laid to board, with a protective flap inscribed "Drawing," together with a positive and a negative photographic print of the drawing.
"Hugh Gray Lieber, L.I.U. Professor, 65: Ex-Head of Art Department Illustrated Wife's Books," New York Times, August 8, 1961.