Saturday, August 14, 2010

Robert Giard: The Creeks – On Display In Our Project Room


ROBERT GIARD

The Creeks
August 12 – October 2, 2010


The Creeks 3, 1991


The Creeks 4, 1991

The gallery is pleased to announce our second exhibition of photographs from the Estate of Robert Giard. This exhibition will be held in our project space and will feature a key selection of vintage prints from his series “The Creeks.”

About Robert Giard

(American, 1939-2002)

Robert Giard was a portrait, landscape and figure photographer who for two decades chronicled a broad survey of contemporary American gay and lesbian literary figures. Giard came relatively late to the practice of photography. He majored in English literature and received a B.A. from Yale, and a M.A. in Comparative Literature from Boston University. Entirely self-taught, he began to photograph, concentrating on landscapes of the South Fork of Long Island, portraits of friends, many of them artists and writers in the region, and the nude figure.

In these early years, eschewing a romantic view of landscape, Giard did much of his shooting during the late autumn, winter, and early spring when many of the fashionable houses of the Hamptons were boarded up for the season. With the region largely depopulated, the surrounding grounds assumed for him "a mysterious, even somewhat sinister air." Among many notable images are twenty-four photographs made at The Creeks, the estate the abstract expressionist painter Alfonso Ossorio which are the subject of this exhibition. (see below)

Ultimately, it would be in the area of the portrait that Giard’s career made its most indelible mark. In 1985, after seeing a performance of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart dealing with the crisis of AIDS in the gay community, Giard was moved by a sense of urgency. He decided that he would put his talents as a photographer to use for other gay men and lesbians "by recording something of note about our experience, our history, and our culture." Synthesizing his life-long interest in literature and his involvement in gay issues of the 1970s and 1980s, Giard set about documenting in straightforward, unadorned, yet sometimes witty and playful, portraits, creating a wide survey of significant literary figures, as well as brash new writers on the scene.

The Creeks 1, 1991


The Creeks 5, 1991

A selection of these portraits, culled from the five hundred examples he had already amassed, was published by MIT Press in 1997 as the anthology Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, and served as the companion volume to the New York Public Library’s 1998 exhibition of the same name. Broadly documenting the flowering of gay and lesbian academic writing, fiction, poetry, and playwrighting, his collection of portraits included such iconic figures such as Edward Albee, Allen Ginsberg and Adrienne Rich as well as emerging novelists making their first mark such as Sapphire, David Leavitt, Shay Youngblood, and Michael Cunningham.

Robert Giard was the recipient of many grants and awards, and the published version of Particular Voices won a Lambda Literary Foundation Award for Best Photography/Art Book in 1997. Examples of his work are in collections of the National Portrait Gallery, the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the San Francisco Public Library, and the Brooklyn Museum.

In 2004, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University acquired the Giard Archive, including one copy of every image he produced during his lifetime, as well as all of his papers, including correspondence, workbooks, diaries, and research materials.

For more information please visit www.robertgiardfoundation.org

About The Creeks

The Creeks has been hailed as "the eighth wonder of the horticultural world" and "the most outstanding private conifer collection in the United States, a living work of art." (NY Times, July21, 1991; American Conifer Society Bulletin). It is home to hundreds of specialty plants, shrubs and trees with thriving specimens of some of the most unusual and rarest conifers on earth.

Originally built for the painter Albert Herter (1871-1950) in 1899 by Grosvenor Atterbury, architect of the Parrish Art Museum, it was acquired in 1952 by the renowned artist, Alfonso Ossorio (1916-1990). At one time, the likes of Enrico Caruso, Isadora Duncan and Anna Pavlova performed in the studio-theatre.

For nearly 40 years, The Creeks was a hub of artistic activity on the East End of Long Island as it was frequented by Jackson Pollock and his wife, Lee Krasner; Grace Hartigan, Franz Kline, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko.

Giard’s photographs of The Creeks are a unique documentation of Ossorio’s union of sculpture in landscape. Giard depicts the contrast between geometric form and carefully tended shrubbery as the man-made forms speak their own silent language under the open sky. Like all of his landscape imagery, “The Creeks” captures something deeply mysterious about the human imprint we make on nature.