From the website Francisnaumann.com

“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 endeavors. 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 game—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).”

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