Since the mid-1980s, photographer Robert Giard has traveled the United States photographing contemporary American gay and lesbian literary figures for his ongoing portrait series, Particular Voices. Beginning April 18, The New York Public Library - the largest institutional collector of Mr. Giard's photographs - will exhibit 110 portraits from this series in "Particular Voices": Robert Giard's Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers. The Library holds more than 150 of Giard's exquisite black-and-white prints in its Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs. The exhibition also features pioneering published works and selected manuscript materials from the Library's extensive and growing archival holdings representing gay and lesbian American literary figures. Since Robert Giard's first portrait for Particular Voices, a 1985 photograph of playwright William Hoffman on display in the exhibition, the project has blossomed to include more than 500 works. Mr. Giard conceived of Particular Voices as a personal testament to the role that writing by gay men and lesbians, and by extension, its purveyors, archivists, and historians, has played in his life. He said, "I am delighted to have this first big exhibition at the Library because I haunted public libraries as a child. I worked my way through college and graduate school as a library assistant. Furthermore, my work is about books, authors, and keepers of Culture and history." In 1997, MIT Press published Giard's book, Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, an anthology of his portraits coupled with sample writings by the people pictured, as well as essays by Joan Nestle, Christopher Bram, and the photographer. The forward is by Julia VanHaaften, curator of the Photography Collection at The New York Public Library's Center for the Humanities, who also curated the exhibition. Robert Giard's Work Giard's work takes him into his subjects' homes or workspaces and displays a gamut of backgrounds, poses, and aesthetics. Luis Alarcon is shown with his Frieda Kahlo collection. Allen Ginsberg is pictured holding his own portrait of William Burroughs. Maria Irene Fornes is holding a stage set model. Tony Kushner is reclining on silk souvenir pillow, portraying Karl Marx. May Sarton is pictured in her charming New England sitting room aflood with sunlight. Joan Nestle, co-founder of the Lesbian Herstory Archives, is pictured holding a plaster sculpture of two faces nestling. Some of the other writers featured in the exhibition include Edward Albee, Dorothy Allison, Rafael Campo, Blanche Wiesen Cook, Samuel R. Delany, Kenward Elmslie, Lillian Faderman, Allan Gurganus, Doris Grumbach, Essex Hemphill, Audre Lord, Tim Miller, Kate Millett, Adrienne Rich, Barbara Smith, Edmund White, and Jonathan Williams. Robert Giard's photographs have been previously displayed in several exhibitions, including those at the San Francisco Public Library, the Lesbian & Gay Community Center in New York City, the East Hampton Center for Contemporary Art, and in galleries at State University of New York campuses at Albany, Oswego, and Stony Brook. Julia VanHaaften said, "Bob's work is particularly significant because he is continuing a grand tradition of photographing authors. His work complements the Library's collection of cultural portraits by Carl Van Vechten from the 1930s and 1940s." "Particular Voices": Robert Giard's Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers opens April 18 and continues through June 27, 1998, in the Third Floor Print and Stokes Galleries of the Center for the Humanties at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.
Companion Volume for Sale in The Library Shops Robert Giard's Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers (MIT Press, 1997) is available in The Library Shops for $45 ($40.50 for Friends of the Library). The Library Shop at the Center for the Humanities (Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street) is open Monday Saturday, 11 a.m. 6 p.m. The Library Shop in the Mid-Manhattan Library (Fifth Avenue and 40th Street) is open Monday Friday, 10 a.m. 7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. 6 p.m.; and Sunday, noon 5 p.m.
Exhibition hours are Monday, Thursday, Saturday, 10 a.m. 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. 7:30 p.m. Closed Sundays and, in observance of Memorial Day, Saturday, May 23 and Monday, May 25. For information on current and upcoming exhibitions, programs, and services at The New York Public Library, visit the Library's website at www.nypl.org
Funding - This exhibition has been made possible by the continuing generosity of Miriam and Ira D. Wallach. Acquisition of "Particular Voices" has been made possible by gifts from the Daniele Agostino Foundation, Louis F. Arce, David P. Becker, William F. Burns, Dr. Herbert I. Cohen and Danny Cook, Dr. Nanette K. Gartrell, the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, Michael Hampton and George Stambolian, Deborah Ann Light, Joyce and Robert Menschel, Dr. Diane Mosbacher, Michael Piore, the Posner-Wallace Foundation, the Miriam & Ira D. Wallach Fund, and an anonymous donor.