Book Review: Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess
By Aimee Lusty
posted: 07-09-09

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Readymade Press, has recently released Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess to coincide with the concurrent exhibition at Saint Louis University Museum of Art, Marcel Duchamp: Chess Master. This is the first major study in the English language dedicated to further examining Duchamp's life and art as effected by his devout interest in chess. It was rumored in the early 1920s that Duchamp had willingly decided to quit making art and devote his life to playing chess. While Duchamp made no attempt to dispute this rumor, he never fully ceased making art while playing tournament chess. Through this book we explore how he combined his interest in chess with his art making process, and his art's evolution toward heavily strategic and coded metaphors that would only become obvious to avid chess players. The book includes essays by Francis M. Naumann and Bradley Bailey, in additional to illustrated game analysis by Jennifer Shade. Naumann's essay Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess compares the chronology of Duchamp's life and art as parallel to a game of chess. He breaks down Duchamp's history into different phases of a chess game: training and learning the game, opening, middle game, and finally the endgame. He compares Duchamp's strategic approach to art as well planned out moves in a chess game. Bradley Bailey's (curator of the exhibition at Saint Louis University Museum) essay Passionate Pastimes: Duchamp, Chess, and the Large Glass "demonstrates that Duchampís identity as a chess player is so thoroughly interfused with his work as an artist that the two activities are aesthetically and conceptually inseparable, an interrelation especially evident in Duchampís masterwork." The book ends with game analysis of fifteen of Duchamp's chess games, analyzed by Jennifer Shade. Upon purchase you gain access to digital animations of each game available on Francis M. Naumann Fine Art website.

Available for purchase on and Readymade Press is based out of Francis M. Naumann Fine Art. The exhibition will travel to Francis M. Naumann Fine Art, New York on view September 10 - October 30, 2009. ...Source

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