ROBERT GIARD was an American portrait, landscape, and figure photographer born on this date (d: 2002). A native of Hartford, Connecticut, Giard majored in English literature and received a B.A. from Yale University in 1961, then an M.A. in Comparative Literature from Boston University in 1965. For a time he taught intermediate grades at the New Lincoln School. By 1972, 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 1974, Giard settled in Amagansett, Long Island, with his life partner, Jonathan Silin, an early childhood educator, where they remained for nearly thirty years until Giard’s death. In the beginning years of his career, Giard did much of his landscape photography during the late autumn, winter, and early spring when many of the fashionable houses of the Hamptons were boarded up for the season.
He is best known for photographing over 500 LGBTQ+ writers and activists. A selection from this project, Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, was published in 1997 by MIT Press and led to a groundbreaking exhibit at the New York Public Library the following year.
In 1985, after seeing a performance of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, as the AIDS crisis raged, Giard decided to turn his camera towards the LGBTQ+ literary community to preserve a record of queer lives and histories. He began documenting LGBTQ+ literary figures, both established and emerging, in a series of unadorned, yet sometimes witty and playful portraits that would eventually number over 500 by the time of his death.
Giard’s work can be found in the collections of The Brooklyn Museum, the Art Museum at the University of Toronto, the San Francisco Public Library, the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress, the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study; his complete archive, including work books and ephemera, can be found in the American Collection of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.