Marcel Duchamp's interest in chess is well-known: a self-described "chess maniac," he played intensely, competed in tournaments, and carved his own set. At times, he absented himself from art to play chess almost exclusively; he encoded messages in his artworks that can only be understood by chess players. Now come two new entries on the subject that shed more light on the obsession.
On May 6, the St. Louis University Museum of Art opened "Marcel Duchamp: Chess Master," which attempts to "experience" his career "through the lens of his intense involvement with the royal game." It features many of his works, like Trebuchet, the coat rack he nailed to his studio floor referencing a chess position, as well as chess-related works by other Dada and Surrealist artists, including Man Ray, Max Ernst, and Salvador Dali. Smartly, the show's opening coincided with the United States Chess Championship in St. Louis.