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New exhibition at the World Chess Hall of Fame offers a glimpse into historic exhibit
André Breton and Nicolas Calas, Wine Glass Chess Set and Board (recreation), 2016. Photo by Michael DeFilippo. © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.


ST. LOUIS, MO.- Designing Chessmen: A Taste of The Imagery of Chess is inspired by the historic, widely publicized exhibit of 1944, The Imagery of Chess, a show for which artists created their own chess sets, “chessmen” and chess-themed art. The current exhibit features works by artists who participated in the original exhibition including Man Ray, Max Ernst, and Alexander Calder, which are on loan from leading institutions and private collections.

Lenders include: Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield (Saint Louis, MO), Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia, PA), Calder Foundation (New York, NY), Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum (Saint Louis, MO), Francis M. Naumann Fine Art (New York, NY), Doug Polumbaum (New York, NY), The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum (New York, NY), Marie Difilippantonio (Newton, CT), Larry List (New York, NY), and the Jean and Julien Levy Foundation for the Arts (Newton, CT), among others.

The organizers of The Imagery of Chess invited artists with differing attitudes toward chess to participate to ensure the exhibit featured a wide range of artworks in various media. Designing Chessmen echos this diversity and celebrates the history of The Imagery of Chess and its impact on future artists.

Show highlights:

• A recreation of André Breton’s and Nicolas Calas’ 1944 chess set composed of wine glasses as chess pieces filled with red and white wine, atop a board made of mirrors, implying that chess was a “narcissistic” pursuit. The concept being that when a player captures a piece, he “must drink the symbolic blood of the victim.”

• The original work by American Surrealist Leon Kelly, “The Plateau of Chess“, offers a murky, desolate, fantasy landscape complete with a chessboard that recedes endlessly into the distance. Likely representing the end of a game, a knight, a queen, and a bishop remain on the board, while the other pieces are lined up along the edges.

• An exquisite, enameled metal chessboard and hardwood table with 32 stering silver pieces, designed by Man Ray in 1962 and inspired by basic geometric shapes. Delicately lining the border of the chessboard is a poem written in French by Man Ray.

• A reproduction of Isamu Noguchi’s Chess Table and Set, black ebonized wood, aluminum, and plexiglass with angular abstractions of biomorphic “men” made from red and green plastic, a choice likely based on the original colors of the pieces in Indian culture.

Designing Chessmen: A Taste of The Imagery of Chess is part of an exhibition program celebrating the fifth anniversary of the World Chess Hall of Fame in Saint Louis. The exhibit will run through March 12, 2017.

Curated by Shannon Bailey, Chief Curator.

To learn more about this exhibit and other current exhibits on view at the World Chess Hall of Fame, click here.






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December 27, 2016

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