Modern Art and Chess-play
Modern Art and chess always seems to come down to Marcel Duchamp.
While a lot can be said in between the Duchamp lines, the famous original Imagery of Chess show still commands much of the deserved attention.
On it's very brochure (designed by Duchamp), Duchamp expressed:
Max Ernst designed such a board, his Strategic Board, along with a chess set worthy of it.
Midway through the show, January 6, 1945, George Koltanowski gave a simultaneous blindfold demonstration. A blindfold exhibition fit nicely into Duchamp's conception that the chess board and pieces were a necessary, yet imperfect interface between the mind and the game. His desire to re-design the board and pieces was centered on the idea that the physical elements of chess should interfere as little as possible with the mental elements. A better design would suggest the correct movement by its visual aspects. Blindfold players don't use such a physical interface - a fact not at all lost on Duchamp.
Oddly, there was a lot of mix-ups concerning the participants. The brochure announced a five board simul against: Alfred Barr, Jr. (the first director of MoMA), Max Ernst, Fredrick Kiesler, Julien Levy, Dorothea Tanning and Dr. Gregory Zilboorg (a psychiatrist and art collector who contibuted a Bauhaus set from his collection). Notice that it lists six people! However seven people actually played: Dr. Zibboorg was replaced with Xanti Schawinsky and Vittorio Rieti.
Dorothea Tanning wrote:
Koltanowski was also a refugee from the the war in Europe who was in South America when the Nazis invaded Belgium, his home. He and Duchamp had formed the Greenwich Village Chess Club in 1942.
Frederick Kiesler, George Koltanowski (facing away), Alfred Barr, Jr.
(playing on an Ernst Strategic Board with an Ernst set)
Duchamp, moving for Koltanowski (facing away);
Alfred Barr, Jr. using an Ernst set; Xanti Schawinsky using a Bauhaus set.