full-marcel-duchamp-playing-chessFotografia por Kay Ben Reynal (Nova Iorque, 1952)

“He [Duchamp] said it wasn’t a war game. It’s an aesthetic game, and you feel the shape of the board as it begins to shift its pattern and you make it become beautiful, even if you lose.”

Julien Levy . Interview with Paul Cummings (1975)


Fotografia por Eliot Elisofon (Nova Iorque, 1952)

“André Breton once compared his abandonment of painting with Rimbaud’s break with poetry. Chess would be in these terms a sort of Harrar in New York, even more execrable than that of the poet. But Duchamp’s inactivity is of a different order from Rimbaud’s silence. The adolescent poet opposes a total negation to poetry and disowns his work; his silence is a wall and we don’t know what lies behind this refusal to speak: wisdom, desperation, or a psychic change that converted a great poet into a mediocre adventurer. Duchamp’s silence is open; he affirms that art is one of the highest forms of existence, on condition that the artist escapes a double trap – the illusion of the work of art and the temptation to wear the mask of the artist. Both of these petrify us; the first makes a prison of a passion, and the second a profession of freedom.”

Octavio Paz in Marcel Duchamp: Appearance Stripped Bare (Arcade Publishing, 1990)


JAF-02Fotografia por Jesse A. Fernandez (Nova Iorque, 1956)

“Like Leonardo, Duchamp had always been more interested in the process of structuring a work of art than in the final execution and ultimate result. Chess seemed to make possible a constant renewal of this process, involving a combination of mathematics and space, logic and imagination, in which the end result is zero in the sense that the board is swept clean. Thus, as a form of mathematic-esthetic speculation, chess playing recapitulated Duchamp’s renunciation of painting and summarized the Dada belief that the value of creative activity lies in the process, in the act of making, rather than in the esthetic significance of the thing made.”

Joseph Masheck in Marcel Duchamp in Perspective (Da Capo Press, 2002)


1956 (SIDNEY WAINTROB)Fotografia por Sidney Waintrob (Nova Iorque, 1956)

“His competitive play in Hyères, Paris, The Hague, Marseilles, Nice, Hamburg, Prague, La Baule and Folkestone occasionally resulted in what were, to Duchamp, gratuitous victories. In 1930, he played to a draw with the American champion, Frank Marshall, and in 1932, he won the Paris chess competition. But Duchamp always insisted that winning was not the point. He wanted to get away from winning so that he could comprehend chess in the same way he had gotten away from painting, so that he would not fall into the trap of becoming an addict to the smell of turpentine. To be seduced by the act of art was tantamount to losing one’s ability to comment intelligently about it.”

Neil Baldwin in Man Ray: American Artist (Da Capo Press, 2000)


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Fotografia por Phillip Halsman (Connecticut, 1956)

“The rules of the game are fixed. The pieces arranged by file and by rank. Eight lines. Eight times eight squares solidly framed on a board and set on a table. The way each piece may be moved is approved by traditions already obscured in East before the game began to be played for a thousand years in the West. And yet, if everything, even more fixed, but sometimes or others starts moving, than why should the humble be patient forever? Never shake off his position, shake off his occupation, shake off his follows, shake the pieces, shake them for a new game. To bring and to play your own imagination, to transform into human beings the wooden knights and queens.”

in 8×8: A Chess Sonata in 8 Movements (Hans Richter, Jean Cocteau e Marcel Duchamp, 1957)


Fotografia por Philippe Halsman (Southbury, 1956)

Passionate Pastime (1956) is a 28 minute introduction to 8×8 (1957). The history of chess, narrated by Vincent Price; music by Douglas Townsend (on a theme by Milhaud) and Robert Abramson; sound editor: Richter. The story of chess from the pre-chess days (2500 b.C.) til the present, utilizing various carved chess figures as manifold as the various peoples that have played the game, from the most primitive to the most sophisticated, reflecting the unending delight in the game. Narration written by Richter. With Marcel Duchamp and Larry Evans (former American chess champion).”

Stendhal Gallery