A playful man, Duchamp challenged conventional thought about artistic processes and art marketing, not so much by writing, but through subversive actions such as dubbing a urinal art and naming it Fountain. He produced relatively few artworks, while moving quickly through the avant-garde circles of his time.
In 1910, Duchamp painted The Chess Game (Philadelphia Museum of Art), a large canvas depicting his brothers intently engaged in a game of chess, their wives relaxing in the lush garden setting of their home and studio in Puteaux.
Whereas this picture clearly derives its inspiration from the brushstrokes of Cezanne and the bright palette of Fauvism, Duchamp would soon begin to experiment with the overlapping imagery and planar fragmentation of Cubism. But when he began his experiments with Cubism, Duchamp was not content to blindy emulate the style: ''I wanted to invent or find my own way.'' His solution was to fuse the subject of his earlier painting of his brothers playing chess with the movements and action of the chess game itself, thereby rendering the pictorial representation of a primarily cerebral activity (the opposite approach to most Cubist painting, which usually departed from the visual analysis of a purely concrete form). ''A game of chess is a visual and plastic thing.'' Duchamp explained some years later, ''and if it isn't geometric in the static sense of the word, it is mechanical, since it moves; it's drawing, it's a mechanical reality ... In chess there are some extremely beautiful things in the domain of movement, but not in the visual domain. It's the imagining of the movement or the gesture that makes the beauty, in this case. It's completely in one's gray matter".
and Portrait of Chess Players (fig. 1, Philadelphia Museum of Art).
In this drawing, the profiles of Duchamp's brothers - on the left, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, and on the right, Jacques Villon - are envisioned in multiple renditions, while various chess pieces - ''placed at random'' - float in undefined spatial positions throughout the image.
The forms within the composition are organised along the predominant pattern of a large central "X", its lower branches emanating perspectively from the tessellations of a chessboard, while its upper extension serves to define the separate domains of the two chess players. If this formal reading is accepted, then Duchamp must have intended the intersecting lines in the center of the composition to represent the point of conjunction between these two players, in other words, that point where a meeting of minds will determine the ultimate outcome of the game.
Buenos Aires. In a letter postmarked from Argentina on January 7, 1919,
Duchamp wrote to Louise Arsenberg, the wife of his New York patron,
“I am also going to join local chess club down here to try my hand again.
I had made up a set of rubber stamps (which I designed), with which I
set up the games. I’m sending here an example for Walter.”
By designing a rubber stamp set in order to facilitate the prospect of
playing chess by mail. Duchamp initiated one of the first postal actions
incorporating the use of the rubber stamp medium. Design try outs:
During the trip to South America, he designed a chess set about which there's been some debate. The commonly accepted idea is that he made the set himself except for the Knight, which he hired a local craftsman to carve by hand. However, Larry List, who documented the Imagery of Chess Revisited show in 2003, argued quite convincingly that all the pieces but the Knight were obviously turned on a lathe. While Duchamp created machine and kinetic art, he never used machines to create the art. As a matter of fact, Duchamp liked to create with his hands. List suggests, even insists, that Duchamp hired a local to turn the pieces on a lathe, while he himself carved the Knight by hand. Duchamp's chess set:
Duchamp's White Knight:
Following a brief excursion to Buenos Aires during 1918 and 1919 where he became a self-described "chess maniac," his interest in the game grew far beyond an idle pastime. He soon made it his objective to win the French Chess Championship. 1927 Duchamp is 4th from left, standing in the background:
Between 1923 and 1933, chess dominated Duchamp's life as he competed in tournaments across Europe. Following several respectable performances, including a first-place finish at the Chess Championship of Haute Normandie in 1924, he was awarded the title of Chess Master by the French Chess Federation. Marcel Duchamp, circa 1930:
Though his objective of winning the French championship would never come to pass, Duchamp did succeed in representing France in numerous tournaments and Olympiads. He published a book on endgame tactics,
extensively revised a classic analysis of opening strategies by the International Grandmaster Eugene Znosko-Borovsky, authored a chess column in the Paris daily newspaper Ce Soir, and became one of the most respected players of correspondence chess in the world.
His participation in tournament play slowed dramatically after 1933, though he remained engaged with the professional chess community for the rest his life. He became a valued ambassador for the game through the various honorary positions he maintained, as well as his charitable effort, the Marcel Duchamp Fund of the American Chess Foundation. His legacy also includes playing a pivotal role in introducing the theme of chess in art to a wider public through his involvement in the organization of two historic exhibitions, "The Imagery of Chess" at the Julien Levy Gallery in 1944 and "Hommage a Caissa" at Cordier & Ekstrom in 1966.
Part of the movie:
Printed on the reverse Duchamp included a hand-drawn image of Cupid, it's arrow pointing to the B file when one follows the written instruction, "Look through from the other side against light," and the images are overlaid with the chess board now right-side round (a black square in the bottom left - below). However, rather than indicating a solution, this merely adds to the image's ambiguity. Attracting much analysis, many experts have concluded that this problem, in fact, has no solution. Exhibiting his trademark mischievous and playful sense of humour, the artist clearly anticipated the hours many chess journalists and even Grandmasters would spend pouring over the quandary to no avail.
Marcel Duchamp's submission: Pocket Chess Set with Rubber Glove:
Eve Babitz was a female friend of Hopp's. The Babitz - Duchamp match was a chance event that cannot be traced to any one person, neither to Wasser nor to Hopps, but was an idea that Duchamp agreed to. It seems a highly deliberate, coordinated and meaningful decision to have moved the playing table into the next gallery and to have staged there, for the camera and before the "Large Glass," a chess game between Duchamp and a female nude named "Eve,". Bailey makes a convincing case that The Large Glass does indeed contain more than a haunting hint of chess.
Duchamp had already related the female nude to the movement of chess pieces across the board: with a nude "Eve" depicted within his earlier painting " Paradise " (1910-11), which featured a nude model posing as Eve, a painting which further became the verso of "King and Queen Surrounded by Swift Nudes."
She has since contributed to several magazines (Ms Magazine, Harper's Bazaar), published several books on the icons of fashion, Hollywood cinema (Eve's Hollywood , L.A. Woman ) and design.
In 1981, she published a books on Ettore Sottass and the Fiorucci label. She has also written several novels, such as Sex & Rage in 1979, on female surfers in California in the 1960s. She has also produced numerous album and magazine covers. Becoming herself something of a Beverly Hills style underground icon. The following is an amateur video of the song Strange Idea of LoveIdea of Love sung by Eva Babitz at the London nightclub The Lost Society.
Max Ernst had ideas about board design as well, and created a "Strategic Value Board" with squares colour-coded accordingly. This photo shows Version 2 of the board, together with the Ernst-designed chess pieces. Notice the pawn on h3.
auditorium at Ryerson Polytechnic in Toronto with his wife Teeny at his
side, Duchamp was again photographed at play in a chess
game in two parts against John Cage (he lost one, but Teeny won the
second). The game was also titled " Reunion " by Cage, a musical
composition, and the chessboard was connected to both light and sound
sensors that issued sounds corresponding to the moves of each player.
This document has been kept undisclosed in Argentina. It was a gift from Tistán Tzará to a surrealist Argentinian writer, then to a well-known journalist and artist, Hermenegildo Sábat.
We are talking about the technical file of the chess match between Marcel Duchamp and the argentinian chess player Valentín Fernández Coria, the 19th of July of 1924 in Paris. This was the only Oympic International Chess Championship that ever existed. This manuscript, in which are written all the moves that were played in the match, is signed by the artist Marcel Duchamp on the first page and on the opposite side of the document. This material has the signature of the Argentinian player also and will be disclosed along with a certificate that proves its authenticity. The importance of this document lies in Duchamp´s activity during his stay in Buenos Aires: playing chess almost every night. As he said, here is where he became a "chess maniac". In the exhibition catalogue, I describe how Duchamp maintained his contact with Argentina after living in this country, even when he wasn´t living in Buenos Aires any more.