Harry Benson's Bobby Fischer photos exhibited in Saint Louis

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The World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis, USA will open its doors on a new exhibit starting March 9, 2012: Bobby Fischer: Icon Among Icons, Photographs by Harry Benson CBE. Benson was the only person to have private access to Bobby Fischer during the epic 1972 World Chess Championship match in Reykjavik, Iceland. A second exhibit starts simultaneously in Saint Louis: Marcel Dzama: The End Game. Both exhibitions explore the game of chess and its role in society from dramatically different angles.

Bobby Fischer | Portrait after Tennis, Grossinger's Resort, New York, 1972 | Photo © Harry Benson

We selected these artists because of their stunning talent and their unique perspectives,

said Susan Barrett, director of WCHoF.

We hope the exhibitions will enlighten visitors while also challenging their preconceived notions of the significance of chess.

Harry Benson: Icon Among Icons

Scottish-born photojournalist Harry Benson’s work ranges from photographs of world leaders to pop stars, all portrayed with an immediacy and naturalness that speaks of a confidence and rapport between sitter and photographer. Benson was the only person to have private access to Bobby Fischer during the epic 1972 World Chess Championship match in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Bobby Kissed by a Horse, Iceland, 1972 | Photo © Harry Benson

Fischer became a pop culture sensation due to his incredible playing and the Cold War matchup between him and Russian player Boris Spassky, the defending world chess champion. News outlets referred to the match as the “Match of the Century” and used headlines such as "Fischer vs. Spassky: A Major Struggle in the Cold War."

Bobby's the Champ, Iceland, 1972 | Photo © Harry Benson

As the images in this exhibition show, Benson’s photography captures a side of the elusive and controversial chess genius that is rarely seen, and offers a window into the private world of the man Benson calls "the most eccentric and most fascinating person I have ever photographed."

Chess in Park, Children Gather Round, Buenos Aires, 1971 | Photo © Harry Benson

Rare images of Fischer will be exhibited along with Benson's photos of other pop culture icons such as Jerry Garcia, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Streisand, Bill Clinton, Muhammad Ali, and Jaqueline Kennedy. The juxtaposition allows viewers to see Fischer’s cultural significance as virtually equal to that of presidents, movie stars, artists, designers, and leaders, whose impact has made them objects of great attention and devotion in society.

Underwater Yoga, Grossinger's Resort, New York, 1972 | Photo © Harry Benson

You can find more Harry Benson photos by Harry Benson on Flickr here.

Marcel Dzama: The End Game

Marcel Dzama: The End Game features the artist’s film, A Game of Chess, alongside related drawings, paintings, sculptures, and dioramas. The work draws from a diverse range of references and artistic influences, including Dada and Marcel Duchamp.

The 14-minute film incorporates ballet, stark landscapes, and moments of violence to tell a story based on the classic game of chess. Performers are dressed in geometrically designed costumes of papier-mâché, plaster, and fiberglass; they dance across a checkered board to challenge their opponents in fatal interchanges. Here's the trailer:

Some new paintings were created especially for this exhibit, which marks the first solo showing of Dzama’s work in the Midwest.

You can find stills from Marcel Dzama's work on Flickr here.

The Harry Benson and Marcel Dzama exibitions will open on March 9, 2012 - the day when Bobby Fischer would have turned 69.

World Chess Hall of Fame

The World Chess Hall of Fame is a nonprofit organization committed to building awareness for the cultural and artistic significance of chess. Originally known as the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame, the museum opened in 1988 in the basement of the Federation’s then headquarters in New Windsor, New York. The first exhibition featured a book of chess openings signed by Bobby Fischer, a Paul Morphy silver set and cardboard plaques honoring past grandmasters. In subsequent years the collection grew, and the museum was moved three times: to Washington D.C. in 1992, to Miami, Florida in 2001 and finally to Saint Louis, Missouri following a seed funding by Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield. There, it opened on September 9, 2011.

The WCHoF is housed in an historic 15,900 square-foot residence-turned-business and features the U.S. and World Chess Halls of Fame, displays of artifacts from the permanent collection, and temporary exhibitions highlighting the great players, historic games, and rich cultural history of chess. The WCHOF partners with the Chess Club and Scholastic Center to provide innovative programming and outreach to local, national, and international audiences. For more information, visit www.worldchesshof.org.

The shows will run through August 12, 2012. Only a small minority of our readers will be able to visit the World Chess Hall of Fame, but we felt we just had to mention this wonderful collection of photos!

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