Artist William Girard clearly found powerful inspiration in J. R. R. Tolkienís Lord of the Rings. While yet a young and more or less newly-minted full-time artist in the employ of patron, Allen Abramson, Girard unleashed an amazing panoply of techniques beginning with Beardsley and moving on to achievements all his own, resulting in a transfixing set of pen and ink images in the service
of a future audience. Future, I say, because it appears that when some of these images were exhibited in 1967 and 1968, they fell on blinkered eyes, so to speak. (Not that everyone was blind. See Joy Hakenson's essay in the Detroit News, Exploring the World of a Young Eccentric, of July 30, 1967.) And since they remained in Abramson's hands, few have seen them since.
Girard's uses negative and positive spaces just as playfully as he draws. And he creates such lovely patterns and textures. These really are special illustrations, if they are illustrations at all, as opposed to art. (Note: Fourteen drawings are displayed, the majority on pages five and six. The numeric links appear at the bottom of display. Allen Abramson's records indicate that two images are unaccounted for.)
Not content merely to draw his vision of Tolkien mythology, Girard was inspired to sculpt an entire chess set infused with Tolkien and his own home life. Reportedly, the process took three years. The white queen was based on Girard's then wife, Bonnie. And the white pawns were at least partially inspired by his young son, Christopher.
Each piece in the set is unique. All were cast in bronze. There will be much to say about this body of work, I am sure, for one art historian or another. Meanwhile, I suggest that you simply dive in and glory in the artistic marvels displayed on the following pages. As time allows, I and others will attempt help enumerate the sundry factors that make these images a contribution.
TIP: Double-click images to explore their details.
But please don't wait. A feast awaits. Tuck in.
And please, forgive the quality of the images. In a very disorderly world, the images offered here are the best that could be found or generated with the resources available in the short period before the entire Abramson estate - from which they come - was put up for sale. I might add that many inches of white space at the top and on the sides of the pen and ink images have been digitally trimmed so I could squeeze as many images as possible in the 100 megabytes this site allows me.
Nearly all of the images have been provided courtesy of photographer Ken Weikal, Farmington Hills, Michigan. The faults of the photo editor are my responsibility, as I played that role.
Glenn Scott Michaels
White pieces from the Bill Girard Lord of the Rings Chess Set (Bronze)
Black pieces from the Bill Girard Lord of the Rings Chess Set (Bronze)