All Photos By Gail
19th century Bengali craftspeople found an export market in Britain for decorative chess sets carved from ivory.
The two sides were sometimes carved to represent opposing armies of local soldiers and Europeans. The example seen here, with relatively simple carving is unusual as signs of wear and repair suggest it was used for playing games rather than as a showpiece for display. Hand-carving has produced variation even between pawns of the same side.
Photographed in the British Galleries at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
All Photos By Gail
This elaborate automaton is a reproduction of the original Chess Player (The Turk) built by Hungarian author and inventor Wolfgang von Kempelen. Touted as an android that could defeat chess masters, von Kempelen’s famed illusion debuted at the court of Empress Maria Theresa during wedding celebrations for her daughter in 1769. Over the course of the eighteenth century, the Chess Player (known in its time as The Turk for its robes and turban) won games against Catherine the Great and Benjamin Franklin. When Napoleon Bonaparte tried to cheat, The Turk wiped all the pieces from the chessboard. In reality, a chess master would hide inside the lefthand cupboard.
The mysterious machine sparked discussions of the possibilities and limits of artificial intelligence, and it inspired development of the power loom, the telephone, and the computer. The original and its secrets were destroyed in a fire in 1854. This reproduction is by American magician, John Gaughan.
Photographed as part of the exhibit Making Marvels at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Photo By Gail
For Venezuelan artist Antonieta Sosa, Ajedrez Visual(Visual Chess), 1965, was “like my spinal column or my umbilical cord, uniting me to painting.” Scattered pops of color interrupt the regularity of the black grid, animating it with the playful movement suggested by the work’s title.
At times, these contrasting hues prompt an optical flickering or afterimage. To Sosa, such retinal effects underscore vision as a dynamic physiological process. Thus, Visual Chess foreshadows her eventual decisions to “come down from the wall” to engage with real space and bodies in the form of sculpture, performance and installations.
Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.
This Pink Chess Set is lovely, and more a work of art than a game, I think.
Even if you’re a jaded art scenester who thinks he’s seen every kind of art on the planet, I’d venture a guess that you’ve not seen anything like the sculptures of Stephanie Lempert that make up Reconstructed Reliquaries; the latest exhibit at Claire Oliver Gallery in Chelsea. For Reconstructed Reliquaries, Lempert interviewed close to 100 people from all walks of life, exploring the rationale behind the reasons certain memories stay with us and why we form attachments to particular objects.
Continue reading Stephanie Lempert’s Reconstructed Reliquaries at Claire Oliver Gallery