ASRL / PERPETUAL 2014
 
Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia, and Chess
By Cayla Lewis
posted: 03-13-09
Marcel Duchamp Designs for Chessmen 1920
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In his article All Artists are Not Chess Players Allan Savage looks at the chess playing of Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, and Francis Picabia.  All three were fascinated by the game and incorporated it into their artwork.  Man Ray blieived that a square grid, such as a chess board, was "the basis for all art… it helps you to understand the structure, to master a sense of order" and he incorporated chess imagery into much of his art.  Picabia was also influanced by the chess board, and created works inspired by it, such as Molecular Construction (1919).

However, Man Ray and Picabia were not as skilled at the game as Duchamp was.  Savage argues that this is because "of the three artists, Duchamp had the greatest motivation to achieve a modicum of success in chess" because " He was disciplined and self-absorbed. He was happy to work alone for long hours and days, which made studying the games of the great masters possible."  Thus he was able to play chess well and even become semi-professional.  He also made many works inspired by his love of chess, including Chessmen (1918), Opposition and Sister Squares are Reconciled (1932) and Pocket Chess Set (1943–1944).

 

 

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