CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Capitol is pretty enough to be in pictures, if not a picture book, and that will be exactly the result if a prominent Charleston photographer's Kickstarter campaign succeeds.
Thorney Lieberman just launched a $31,000 Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of a 72-page hardcover coffee table book that will retail for $26.98. The project has 27 days to meet its goal, celebrating a building architect Cass Gilbert (1859-1934) considered one of the crowning works of his life.
"It's monumental, but it's also very elegantly done," Lieberman said of the Capitol. "It's not gaudy; it's simple. Beautiful materials. I've seen other state capitols, and 'elegant' is the best word that comes to mind -- the proportions and the feelings of the spaces. Without being pretentious, it's really quite grand."
As Lieberman observes on his Kickstarter campaign page: "Historians have long noted how 'beautifully sited, perfectly proportioned and handsomely detailed' it is, and several books have been written detailing its abundant history. There is no great book of photographs, however, to visually convey this great American building."
Lieberman is well suited to the task of documenting Gilbert's masterwork.
He has been a professional architectural photographer since the 1970s. For 20 years, he was the principal photographer for architect I.M. Pei, and has worked with many other major architects across the country. A book of his landscape photographs of New York City, "Manhattan Lightscape," was first published by Abbeville Press in 1990 and is still in print.
He has had a number of museum exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe, including a retrospective, "Several Arguments with Photography 1968-2008," at the Huntington Museum of Art, where he served as a Walter Gropius Master Artist.
"I realized there was no picture book to take away from the Capitol, and it is a major piece of American architecture. Cass Gilbert was a major architect," Lieberman said.