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John Lieberman Papers

Identifier: MC-033

Scope and Contents

The John Lieberman Papers were donated to Pratt Institute by Suzanne Marshall in 2021. The collection includes mail art, correspondence, drawings and other artwork created by Lieberman. The bulk of the materials reflect his time in the Brooklyn art scene in the early 1980s, after receiving his MFA from Pratt. The collection consists primarily of works on paper, including mail art, xerox art, photographs, other artwork, correspondence, and other written works. There are also two, small 3-dimensional works of art. All correspondence is addressed to Suzanne Marshall, who was a close friend of Lieberman.


  • 1977-2018


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to the public.

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish, contact the Institute Archivist, Pratt Institute Library at

Biographical / Historical

John Lieberman (1955-2018) was born in Detroit on November 3rd, 1955. Lieberman was prolific, exploding the boundaries of many mediums including: drawing, performance art, printmaking, painting, cartooning, ceramics, and photography. Early in Lieberman's childhood, in response to being blacklisted, his father set up his own printing shop in their Detroit home. This resulted in an early immersion in socialism and a lifelong dedication to political action and the power of unions. Lieberman's works always reflected his roots: political, blue collar. In the early 70s he attended Northern Michigan University, returned to Detroit to work in a steel plant, and then moved to Brooklyn, NY to attend Pratt Institute.

Lieberman was larger than life as a personality and as a creator- his work was wildly inventive, often sardonic, humorous yet deeply compassionate. In the early 80s he earned an MFA from Pratt Institute. During this time, he was one of the earliest originators of the burgeoning Williamsburg performance, pop-up shows and material artist scene (Mudd Club, Franklin Furnace, P.S. 122. Arleen Schloss's A's). After many years in NYC he moved to Philadelphia and then Seattle, finally settling in Los Angeles.

In Los Angeles he established a respected career managing sets for Hollywood studios and continued to produce art. He always had an entourage of artists and avant-garde personalities around him, maintaining friendships across many decades and large geographical distances. When he eventually married, the ceremony was attended by no less than six ex-girlfriends. A unique and complex character, Johnny Lieberman was childlike throughout his life- ceaselessly productive, fearless in his explorations, veering maniacally along knife edges of destruction and creation. Many describe him as one of their greatest influences; certainly their greatest friend. He was a unique and important artist.

Biography provided by Suzanne Marshall.


1 Linear Feet (Two document boxes, one artifact box, and one oversized folder. )

Language of Materials



The John Lieberman Papers consist of the artwork and personal correspondence of Brookyln-based artist John Lieberman. While the collection dates from 1977 to 2018, the bulk of the materials reflect his time in the Brooklyn art scene in the early 1980s.


The records are arranged in 4 series: Series 1. Correspondence, 1979-2018; Series 2. Written Work, 1980-1983; Series 3. Artwork; Series 4. Biographical Information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The John Lieberman Papers were donated by Suzanne Marshall in 2021.


No further accruals are expected.

Processing Information

This collection was processed and finding aid written by Kiana Clark, Taylor Decelles and Hannah Freeman on November 14, 2022 as part of the Pratt Institute School of Information Management of Archives and Special Collections course Fall 2022. Arrangement and description was completed under the supervision of Cristina Fontánez Rodríguez, course instructor and Institute Archivist. Descriptive Rules Used: Finding aid adheres to that prescribed by Describing Archives: A Content Standard. Finding aid written in English.

Guide to John Lieberman Papers
Kiana Clark, Taylor Decelles, Hannah Freeman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Pratt Institute Archives Repository

200 Willoughby Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11205 United States