Readymade Press, hardcover, Englisch, ISBN: 978-0-9800556-2-7, 134
In the early 1920s a rumor circulated through the art worlds of Paris and New
York that Marcel Duchamp (the artist best known for "Nude Descending a
Staircase", the sensation of the Armory Show of 1913) had decided to stop making
art in order to devote his life to playing chess.
Although Duchamp made no effort to refute this claim and had indeed entered
into regular tournament play, he would never abandon his career as an artist.
For the remaining years of his life, he sought opportunities to combine the two
Not only was the theme of chess an ever-present motif in his work, from his
earliest paintings to works of his final decade, but on more than one occasion
he buried coded messages in his art that could be fully comprehended only by
proficient players of the game.
He went so far as to suggest that the activity of playing chess be considered
a component of his artistic expression. "I have come to the conclusion that
while all artists are not chess players" he memorably remarked, "all chess
players are artists."
Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess is the first major study in the English
language devoted to exploring how Duchamp's activities as a chess player
affected his art.
Francis M. Naumann's essay "Marcel Duchamp: the Art of Chess" shows that the
chronology of Duchamp's life runs parallel to the various phases of a chess
- from opening, to middle game, to endgame -
revealing how various events that he subtly orchestrated resemble the
unfolding pattern of a game, one that, insofar as the game of art is concerned,
continues to be played.
Bradley Bailey's essay "Passionate Pastimes: Duchamp, Chess, and the
Large Glass" demonstrates that Duchamp's 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 Duchamp's masterwork, "The Bride
Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors", "Even", 1915-23 better known as the "Large
Glass" (Philadelphia Museum of Art)..
..and in the preliminary study "Nine Malic Molds", 1913-14 (Musée National
d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris).
Jennifer Shahade selects and expertly analyzes fifteen of Duchamp's chess
games, which are laid out by Jean Sabrier in a font that replicates Duchamp's
Design for Chessmen (1918).
Francis M. Naumann is an independent scholar and curator, specializing in art
from the Dada and Surrealist periods. He is author of numerous articles,
exhibition, catalogues and books including:
"New York Dada" 1915-25 (Harry N. Abrams, 1994), "Marcel Duchamp: The Art of
Making Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" (Harry N. Abrams,
He is preparing for publication a selection of his essays on
Marcel Duchamp, and he currently owns and operates his own gallery in New York
Bradley Bailey is assistant professor of art history at Saint
Louis University. His doctoral dissertation, Duchamp's Chess Identity, was
completed at Case Western Reserve University in 2004.
In conjunction with this book and the 2009 U.S. Chess Championship, he
organized the exhibition "Marcel Duchamp: Chess Master" at the Saint Louis
University Museum of Art. His forthcoming research explores the reproduction and
reception of Duchamp's readymades in 1964.
Jennifer Shahade is two-time American Women's Chess Champion (2002, 2004),
and author of Chess Bitch: Women in the Ultimate Intellectual Sport (2005). She
is the editor of uschess.org, the official website of the U.S. Chess