Sunday, February 2, 2014

Significant Collection of Robert Giard Photos Donated to the University of Toronto

TORONTO – The University of Toronto Art Centre is excited to announce the acquisition of a multi-year gift of 53 works of the famed American photographer, Robert Giard (1939-2002) donated by Jonathan Silin, Robert Giard’s partner of thirty years.

Giard first picked up a camera in 1972 and began photographing landscapes, portraits of friends, and the nude figure. By 1985, his passion for photography evolved into the creation of an extensive archive of American and Canadian gay and lesbian literary figures, both iconic and emerging: an ambitious project to celebrate queer histories and literature in the wake of the AIDS crisis.

Giard’s portraits have been described as a “transaction between the photographer and the writer.” Often captured in casual surroundings, the portraits are disarming in their unadorned, straightforward style.

Between 1985 and his death in 2002, Giard took nearly 600 black and white portraits of literary figures including the Canadians: Beth Brant, Richard Labonté, Nicole Brossard, Michael Lynch and Daryl Hine. These five pictures-- which were part of Jonathan Silin’s original 2010 donation of eight photographs -- were included in UTAC’s 2012 Just As You Are: Portraits by Robert Giard an exhibition supported in part by the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies.

“I believe it’s especially important that the Canadian authors included in Giard’s archive now have a home in Canada and in a university that celebrates Canadian literature. Students and researchers at SDS will have opportunities to see and work with the collection as part of their ongoing commitment to studying and exploring issues of identity, sexuality, and community and how they relate to questions of documentation, representation and aesthetics,” said SDS Associate Director Scott Rayter.

“The University of Toronto Art Centre is exceptionally fortunate to be able to share this collection and the legacy it represents with students, faculty and the public, through special research projects, exhibitions, and rotating displays,” adds UTAC Interim Director Barbara Fischer.

The University of Toronto has also recently acquired the nearly complete archive of Allen Ginsberg’s surviving photographs. Together the two archives – Girard and Ginsberg -- capture an extraordinary cultural history from the 1940s to the beginning of the 21st century.

The entire Giard archive is available at the UTAC Collections Online portal that can be accessed from the University of Toronto Art Centre’s homepage at  You can also view a tour of the exhibition Just As You Are: Portraits by Robert Giard by following the Watch link on the UTAC website

For more information, please contact:
Maureen Smith | University of Toronto Art Centre | | 416-946-7089

Robert Giard Artist Page:

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