Chess = a design on slate / that one erases, / the beauty of which / one can reproduce without the / intervention of the ‘hand.’

Marcel Duchamp


cri_000000212136Marcel Duchamp . The Chess Players (1965)

“And why isn’t my chess playing an art activity? A chess game is very plastic. You construct it. It’s mechanical sculpture and with chess one creates beautiful problems; and that beauty is made with the head and hands.”

Marcel Duchamp (entrevista por Truman Capote in Richard Avedon, Observations, 1959)


53370196_10-psFotografia por Mark Kauffman (Nova Iorque, 1966)

“The plight of the chess master is much more difficult though – much more depressing. An artist knows that maybe someday there’ll be recognition and monetary reward but for the chessmaster there is little public recognition and absolutely no hope of supporting himself by his endeavors. If Bobby Fischer came to me for advice, I certainly would not discourage him – as if anyone could – but I would try to make it positively clear that he will never have any money from chess, live a monk-like existence and know more rejection than any artist ever has, struggling to be known and accepted.”

Marcel Duchamp (Chess Life, 1961)


PAR104557Fotografia por Henry Cartier-Bresson (Paris, 1968)

“Chess is a sport. A violent sport. This detracts from its most artistic connection. Of course, one intriguing aspect of the game that does imply artistic connotations is the actual geometric patterns and variations of the actual set-up of the pieces and in the combinative, tactical, strategical and positional sense. It’s a sad expression though – somewhat like religious art – it is not very gay. If it is anything, it is a struggle.”

Marcel Duchamp (Chess Life, 1961)


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Fotografia por Man Ray (Cadaqués, 1968)

“The word ludic – in latin ludo – mean to play, wich is a thing to live for. You play chess and you kill, but you don’t kill much as if with…. people live after being killed, you see…. in chess, but not in normal wars. It’s a peaceful thing, it’s a peaceful way of understanding life, to play. Play anything else, not chess alone, but all games. Play with life, then you are just as alive and more alive than peo­ple who believe in reli­gion and art.”

Marcel Duchamp (In His Own Words, 1968)


shigeko_kubota_duchamp_cage_chessFotografia por Shigeko Kubota (Toronto, 1968)

“I don’t play very much anymore. I have a hard time winning, even from the wood pushers as we call them. Once or twice a year I go to the Marshall Chess Club across the street, but that’s all. You can forget about something you love very much. It’s a Zen concept.”

Marcel Duchamp (The New York Times, 1967)


cri_000000229287Max Ernst . The King Playing with the Queen (original 1944 / cast 1954)

“In this sculpture, a horned king towers over a conical queen and a sextet of infantry. Ernst first displayed the plaster version of this sculpture in The Imagery of Chess, a 1944 exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York. The conflict and hierarchy inherent to chess may have served as an allegory for World War II, which had driven Ernst into exile in the United States. Or, as Ernst’s wife, the artist Dorothea Tanning, later wrote, a hypothetical king and queen playing a game involving kings and queens – there is no end to the interpretations that could be put upon such a situation.

Museum of Modern Art