Detroit News Art Critic Reviews Bill Girard (1967)
Master of Mud (aka artist) and former Center for Creative Studies (CCS), Detroit, professor of art, Bill (William J.) Girard Jr., passed away in 2011. The website created to honor him is found at https://girardsvasari.com/
Title: Exploring the World of a Young Eccentric.
The occasion: Girard's inclusion in the Butler Art Institute's mid-year art exhibit and his addition to the teaching corps of the Detroit Society of Arts & Crafts.
Headline: Exploring the World of a Young Eccentric
By JOY HAKANSON
Detroit New« Art Critic
Eccentric may seem a
dubious name for a gifted young artist. But it fits Bill Girard, a Detroiter
who belongs to the tradition of Hieronymus Bosch, Henry Fuseli and more
recently Louis Eilshemius and Joseph Cornell.
Words cannot be minced.
An eccentric is an eccentric. His work must be regarded in that light or it
becomes open to criticism for all the wrong reasons.
At 28, Girard is a
largely self-taught artist, who turns from drawing to painting to sculpture
with equal ease. He seldom has exhibited, is unknown outside a devoted cult of
collectors and friends.
HE IS SHOWING one painting now at the Butler Art Institute’s annual mid-year
exhibit. He has signed on as an instructor for the forthcoming season at the
Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts.
He lives with his wife
and two young children on the edge of Oakland University’s campus.
Recently there ha's been
a revival in interest in the eccentric and his art. Last season New York
galleries played up such bizarre draftsmen as John Graham and Aubrey Beardsley.
THE L A T E S T Art News Annual
devoted a whole issue to “The Grand Eccentrics.” By placing some splendid
misfits in context, the work of Flemish Bosch, the English William Blake, the
French Gustave Moreau and contemporary Americans Ivan Albright, Cornell and Lucas
Samaras suddenly took on fresh presence.
Seeing “The Grand
Eccentrics” side by side is to be aware of the thread that binds together
Bosch’s demons, the obsessed foliage of Hercules Seghers, Blake’s winged
creatures, Henry Fuseli’s nightmares and Odilon Redon’s exquisitely colored
This same thread reaches
to Bill Girard. The trouble is that a casual observer looking at his unearthly
landscapes, dragons, warlocks, faintly evil princesses, leering satyrs may
write them off as imitation Bosch or Beardsley.
He is a pleasant, unassuming man, who admits candidly that “I think in pictures but can’t explain them’ and that when it comes to the current art scene “I’m really out of it.”
Why eccentric? What does
the word mean in art?
First, eccentric art by
its nature is impossible to define. It is a relative term because all
exceptional creative work stands apart from the mainstream.
THERE ARE SIGNS, how-
ever, to be observed. The eccentric explores a psychic landscape, one that he
projects without fear of failure and without regard to other artists’ rules,
which don’t apply to him anyway.
The eccentric will dare
anything and risk everything to give form to his vision. He piles detail upon
detail, image upon image shifting his scale and perspective to suit his whim.
He has, in Girard's
words, "a fear of negative spaces” and an eye that stores with the
instinct of a pack-rat “all the cloud formations, foliage
patterns, human postures” that he may need at some future time.
THIS JUDGMENT js unfair. While a competent craftsman could imitate the subjects and styles of the eccentrics, it takes a Girard to project and sustain the psychic mood.
Now as always, eccentric art is not everyone’s dish. It defies labeling, is uncomfortable and demanding.
One does riot just
decide to bat off a primeval forest or prehistoric beasts or flowers exuding
impending calamity with the power to jolt the viewer. This takes a special kind
of impulse and vision that cannot be taught or learned.
TO DATE, one of Girard's
most impressive accomplishments is a set of illustrations he did for J. R. R.
Tolkien's “The Lord of the Rings,’* a book cherished by the Hippies.
Girard wasn't aware the
book was fashionable and said he knew less about the Hippies and their philosophy.
He heard Tolkien read on the radio and began drawing from the word pictures
simply because they struck a response in him.
Whether one likes
Girard’s kind of art or loathes it, he is someone to respect in a world that
fights for freedom but humiliates its prophets.
- GIRARD: THE FAIRY'S TALE. PART I - A PROSE POEM FOR PERFORMANCE
- NOTED GERMAN SCIENTIST CRACKS HIEROGLYPHIC CIPHER OF ARTIST BILL GIRARD
- CONVERSATION WITH AN EARLY GIRARD COLLECTOR: MR. DOUBLEDAY
- ART AS ANODYNE FOR A YOUNG PATIENT: A GIRARD ANECDOTE
- GIRARD'S PINCKNEY, MICHIGAN, MURALS (CIRCA 2005)
- 2 ARTISTS. 4 PAINTINGS. WHICH GET IN THE SHOW?
- A LETTER FROM BILL: THE "NION" WOMAN
- GIRARD LIMERICK #1: THERE ONCE WAS AN ARTIST NAMED BILL
- GIRARD LIMERICK #2: GIRARD FOUND THE KEY TO HIS ART IN THE ATTIC
- A FASCINATION WITH FAIRIES. (EXCERPT)