Marcel Duchamp, Chess Enthusiast, Created an Art Deco Chess Set That’s Now Available via 3D Printer

What would Mar­cel Duchamp have thought of the age of 3D print­ing, had he fore­seen it? I reck­on that the inven­tor of the “ready­made” work of art — i.e., a piece found in the real world and placed into an artis­tic con­text, as he famously/infamously did with a uri­nal for 1917’s Foun­tain — would endorse it as the log­i­cal exten­sion of his own cre­ative prin­ci­ples. But man, espe­cial­ly a man like Duchamp, does not live by recon­tex­tu­al­ized plumb­ing alone: he also paint­ed, sculpt­ed, and even carved. This last prac­tice result­ed, after some time in Buenos Aires the year after Foun­tain, in his very own one-of-a-kind Art Deco chess set. But now this unique item has turned ready­made, so Boing­bo­ing reports via Kot­tke, as “freely down­load­able 3D print-files on Thin­gi­verse, where the com­mu­ni­ty is active­ly remix­ing them” into ver­sions “like this one, with self-sup­port­ing over­hangs.”


Duchamp him­self, who appears in the video at the top of the post describ­ing his pas­sion for chess, sure­ly would have enjoyed all this. After his time in Buenos Aires, he moved to Paris, then to Amer­i­ca, and, in 1923, back to Paris again, by which time he’d ded­i­cat­ed him­self almost ful­ly to the game. Chess has obsessed many of human­i­ty’s finest minds over cen­turies and cen­turies, and Duchamp seems to have shown lit­tle resis­tance to its intel­lec­tu­al and aes­thet­ic pull. Still, just as he crossed chess and art when he craft­ed his Art Deco set (pic­tured above), he did it again in 1925, when he not only com­pet­ed in the Third French Chess Cham­pi­onship (earn­ing the title of grand mas­ter as a result) but also designed its strik­ing poster below. The New York Times’ Hol­land Cot­ter, review­ing the Fran­cis M. Nau­mann Fine Arts show “Mar­cel Duchamp: The Art of Chess,” writes that Duchamp ulti­mate­ly found his two pas­sions not just rec­on­cil­able but “com­ple­men­tary, an ide­al inter­sec­tion of brain­pow­er and beau­ty. Chess was art; art was chess. Every­thing was about mak­ing the right moves.”

To delve deep­er, you can explore the book, Mar­cel Duchamp: The Art of Chess by Fran­cis M. Nau­mann.


via Boing­bo­ing/Kot­tke

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Anémic Ciné­ma: Mar­cel Duchamp’s Whirling Avant-Garde Film (1926)

Free App Lets You Play Chess With 23-Year-Old Nor­we­gian World Cham­pi­on Mag­nus Carlsen

A Famous Chess Match from 1910 Reen­act­ed with Clay­ma­tion

Chess Rivals Bob­by Fis­ch­er and Boris Spassky Meet in the ‘Match of the Cen­tu­ry’

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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