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

“As for chess? Great, Great! I played a lot in simultaneous matches that Marshall held, playing on 12 boards at a time. And I won my match 2 times. I’ve made enormous progress and I work like a slave. Not that I have any chance of becoming champion of France, but I will have the pleasure of being able to play almost any player, in a year or two. Naturally this is the part of my life that I enjoy most. This winter I will be on Marshall’s team (his 8 best players) against the other N.Y. teams. Just as I had already done last winter – but this time I’m hoping to win a few games (wich I didn’t then) – I am crazy about it.”

M. Duchamp to Jean Crotti and Suzanne Duchamp, October 20, 1920 (Selected Correspondence)


imagem1Marcel Duchamp . Chess Pieces (1918-19)

“I’m playing chess in a big way. I’m a member of the Club here where there are some very good players ranked according to their standard. I haven’t had the honor of being ranked yet and play with various players in Categories 2 and 3, losing and winning every now and then. I’m taking chess lessons with the best player in the club who is a wonderful teacher and makes me make theoretical progress. So I’ve been thinking that after I return to France I could play by cable with Walter.”

M. Duchamp to Louise and Walter Arensberg, end-March 1919 (Selected Correspondence)


bw2Marcel Duchamp . Designs for Chessmen / Arensberg Chess Score (Buenos Aires, 1918)

“Duchamp’s passion for chess increased during his stay in South America. In a letter to Louise Arensberg from Buenos Aires dated January 7, 1919, he wrote: I have had a set of rubber stamps made (designed by me) wich I use to record games. A couple of months later, in a letter to Mrs. Arensberg and her husband Walter dated end March 1919 (also from Buenos Aires), he used the rubber stamps to indicate the firts moves of a chess game. The same stamps came into use when he sent a chess score to his friend Pierre de Massot in Paris, recording an endgame problem (Black: Lopez Martiny). The size of the sheet is 4 1/2 x 6 11/16” (10.5 x 17 cm), an indication that the designs were very small in scale. He seems to have had a stamp made for the chessboard as well.”

Arturo Schwarz in The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp (Delano Greenidge, 1997)



“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


1950-134-63-cxMarcel Duchamp . The King and Queen Surrounded by Swift Nudes (1912)

“I was much more interested in recreating ideas in painting. For me the title was very important. I was interested in making painting serve my purpose, and in getting away from the physicality of painting. For me Courbet had introduced the physical emphasis in the XIXth century. I was interested in ideas – not merely in visual products. I wanted to put painting once again at the service of the mind. And my painting was, of course, at once regarded as intellectual, literary painting. It was true I was endeavouring to establish myself as far as possible from pleasing and attractive physical paintings. That extreme was seen as literary. My King and Queen was a chess king and queen.”

in The Writings of Marcel Duchamp (Da Capo Press, 1989)


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Fotografia por Constantin Brancusi (Villefranche-sur-Mer, 1931)

“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)



“Picabia was drinking more and more heavily and working himself into a manic state that would eventually lead to a nervous breakdown. Insatiably priapic, he embarked that summer on an affair with Isadora Duncan. At the same time he was painting some of the best pictures of his entire career, writing poetry, and putting out an avant-garde magazine called 391, wich he had started in Barcelona a few months earlier. (More casual and free-wheeling than Marius de Zaya’s 291, 391 served mainly as an outlet to Picabia’s ideas, jokes, insults, and provocations). Picabia considered The Blind Man a rival to 391, and one night at the Arensbergs’ he challenged Roché to a chess match that would decide the fate of the two magazines; Picabia’s victory doomed The Blind Man, wich ceased publication after its second issue. Duchamp and Roché printed the score of the chess game in Rongwrong, an eight-page one-shot publication that they brought out in July. The title was a printer’s error that Duchamp decided to retain – it was supposed to be Wrongwrong; the magazine itself is of no great interest aside from its cover, wich reproduces a mildly scatological illustration (taken from a book of matches) of two dogs sniffing each other’s rear ends. The cost of printing these ephemeral little magazines was negligible in those days, wich was one reason there were so many of them.”

Calvin Tompkins in Duchamp: A Biography (Henry Holt and Company, 1996)

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Francis Picabia . 391 / Henri-Pierre Roché . The Blind Man (1917)