Presented by the Goethe-Institut Toronto
with the Consulate General of Switzerland in Montreal
The Goethe-Institut Toronto has invited Swiss-Canadian librarian-photographer Thomas Guignard to take over the Goethe Media Space for fall 2020 to investigate questions about reading hubs and architectural spaces, and where and how people read. Breaking through the art wall and expanding the library at the Goethe-Institut Toronto into Berlin's Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Centre, Guignard plays with access and scale, form and function, perspectives and vanishing points.
Guignard has visited more than 300 libraries, still a work in progress.
This project is part of the Goethe-Institut Toronto's celebration of CFBM2020, the Canada focus at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Each Tuesday in October, Thomas Guignard will take over the Goethe-Institut Toronto Instagram account to take a closer look at a detail from his Humboldt University photo and discuss ideas of public reading and thinking spaces
“Reading terraces” - Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Zentrum, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin (2011)
"Swiss librarian and photographer Thomas Guignard captures the beauty, symmetry and intricate designs of libraries across the world" — The Guardian
I often look for symmetry when photographing architecture, and so when I first saw the images of the new library that Max Dudler built for Humboldt University in central Berlin in 2009, I knew exactly what shot I wanted to take. Everything in this space works to converge the viewer’s gaze, with the same precision as a perspective study. The repetitive design of the interior facades and ceiling, which brings to mind an inside-out version of one of Dudler’s earlier works, the Diocesan Library in Münster, frames the shot perfectly while at the same time providing transparency that allows a glimpse into interior rooms and all the way to the outside facade. When taking this shot, I was careful to place myself as close to the centre of the atrium as possible and work as quickly and discreetly as possible to avoid disturbing the students. The use of a wide-angle lens worked to exaggerate the width of what is otherwise a deep and narrow interior “canyon” and place the vanishing point in the centre of the image. This library is named after the Brothers Grimm, the 18th century German lexicographers best known for their work collecting folk tales such as Cinderella, the Little Red Riding Hood, and Hansel and Gretel. This last story was very much on my mind when visiting this library, and I could not help but notice that the brown wood panels covering the walls could quite conceivably have been gingerbread.
is a librarian and architecture photographer, originally from Switzerland and now based in Toronto and Québec City. For the past decade, he has been traveling the world with his camera, documenting libraries --many of them in Germany and Europe-- and exchanging ideas with local library staff about the architecture, design and organization of the places he visits. His interest in library architecture started when he was involved in the planning for a new library building. Looking for inspiration, Guignard started researching and then visiting other libraries that were moving into new spaces or undergoing a revitalization. He photographed details that struck his interest, and gradually became fascinated with the unique visuals offered by all libraries, big and small, historical and modern.
He loves to read when traveling. He makes a point of visiting as many libraries as he can when on the road and often plans trips around buildings he is interested in. For Thomas Guignard, there is nothing like a long train ride with plenty of snacks, a good novel and no cell service. He runs the Instagram account @concretelibraries
dedicated to library architecture photography.
Please note that there are two time slots available for groups of up to 8 guests only, physically distanced, and masked to ensure everyone’s safety:
Wednesday, October 14th @ 12-1pm
Thursday, November 5th @ 12-1pm
Click here to sign-up for a time slot.
Part of the Goethe-Institut focus on CFBM2020