Showing posts with label Chess and Art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chess and Art. Show all posts

October 5, 2011

Chess Design

I believe a house is not a home without the right accessories. I also believe that the way we live and function in our space tells a lot about who we are as individuals. I believe that a study, home office, living room, play room or a hallway always benefits from a special nuance or detail. Such a detail would be the placement of a chess board somewhere in a corner or even right in the middle of the room, so you cannot miss it:)

January 10, 2011

Chess in Paintings

  • "Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make people happy." (Siegbert Tarrasch)
  • "Alekhine is a poet who creates a work of art out of something that would hardly inspire another man to send home a picture postcard." (Max Euwe)
  • "Not all artists are chess players, but all chess players are artists." (Marcel Duchamp)
  • "I am still a victim of chess. It has all the beauty of art - and much more. It cannot be commercialised. Chess is much purer than art in its social position." (Marcel Duchamp)

The game of chess found itself closely connected to arts in general since immemorial times. Ages ago, the first representations of people playing this game were done by artists. Ever since, the game and its complex designs was used as a motif in many artistic productions (paintings, engravings, drawings, photography, motion pictures, musical tracks, advertisements, etc).
Surprisingly or not, there are so many paintings using chess as a main theme -  over 500! Which give us the permission to even say that chess is the favourite game illustrated by painters in their works of art. What could have possibly intrigued so much all these artists? Maybe the power of symbolism, the mysticism, the richness of imagination?! Maybe because chess is an image of life? Or because the game, as we know, has several conventional connotations, including high-class status, intellectual virtuosity, political struggle, and artistic resourcefulness? Probably a little bit of all...

I loved writing this article, even if it became kind of difficult at some point because of my modest knowledge on art and painting styles. But now I know much more than before, I feel intellectually richer and happy to bring together a scattered material.
Artists used many styles in their paintings and underneath you will find some of the more common styles of art, with an example of a painting where chess was illustrated.

CUBISM:  In cubist artworks, objects are broken up, analyzed, and re-assembled in an abstracted form - instead of depicting objects from one viewpoint, the artist depicts the subject from a multitude of viewpoints to represent the subject in a greater context. Often the surfaces intersect at seemingly random angles, removing a coherent sense of depth. The background and object planes interpenetrate one another to create the shallow ambiguous space, one of cubism's distinct characteristics. Cubism was the beginning of the Abstract and Non-objective art styles.

Juan Gris:"Chess Pieces", 1917
Gris's late-Cubist painting connects the ideas of chess and art by stressing how the abstract handling of lines (vertical, horizontal, and diagonal) across a two-dimensional field (the canvas) evokes not so much the concrete form of his chess pieces, but rather the spatial vectors of their movements across a chessboard. Thus, Gris deploys this iconography to evoke a sense of the way Cubist art can consolidate different spatial orientations into a single image.

I would like to share with you one more painting of the same cubist style, which I like very much.
Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), the 'father' of Dadaism, was a french chessplayer and renowned artist. A competitor in the world amateur championship of 1924, four French championships from 1924 to 1928, and four Olympiads from 1928 to 1933.
His obsession for the game intensified as he grew older. Of his marriage in 1927 Man Ray writes: "Duchamp spent most of the one week they lived together studying chess problems, and his bride, in desperate retaliation, got up one night when he was asleep and glued the chess pieces to the board. They were divorced three months later."
Duchamp used chess themes in several of his paintings and collages.

Marcel Duchamp:"Portrait of chess players", 1911
Title in French:"Portrait de joueurs d'echecs"
Location: Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA

On the painting there is the Cubist overlapping frames and multiple perspectives of his two brothers playing chess, but to that Duchamp added elements conveying the unseen mental activity of the players. (Notably, "échec" is French for "failure".)

ABSTRACT:  Abstract art uses a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world.Abstract artists felt that paintings did not have to show only things that were recognizable. In their paintings they did not try to show people, animals, or places exactly as they appeared in the real world. They mainly used color and shape in their paintings to show emotions.

Mark Webster:"The Chess Player"
The painting can be bought online, for 225$

IMPRESSIONISM: Characteristics of Impressionist paintings include relatively small, thin, yet visible brush strokes, open composition, emphasis on the accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities (often accentuating the effects of the passage of time), ordinary subject matter, the inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience, and unusual visual angles.

John Singer Sargent:"Dolce far niente", 1907
Location: Brooklyn Museum, New York, USA

POST-IMPRESSIONISM: Postimpressionism began in the 19th century. It was mainly still lifes and landscapes. The postimpressionists liked to use lots of colors and shadows.

Marcel Duchamp:"The chess game", 1910
Location: Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA

The painting is a large canvas depicting Duchamp's brothers intently engaged in a game of chess, while their wives are relaxing in the lush garden. This picture clearly derives its inspiration from the brushstrokes of Cezanne (Postimpressionism) and the bright palette of Fauvism.

FAUVISM: Fauvism was an art style that lasted only four years, beginning in 1905. The leader of this movement was Henri Matisse. The word Fauvism is french for "wild beasts". It got this name because the paintings had bright and unusual colors. The subjects in the paintings were shown in a simple way, and the colors and patterns were bright and wild.

Henri Matisse:"The Painter's Family", 1911
Location: The Hermitage Museum, St.Petersburg, Russia

As most artists have depicted it, Matisse presents chess as an intellectual struggle between two opponents who have been locked together by an invisible force and are now held firm together, bent over a small table which is their own personal field of battle.

EXPRESSIONSIM: Its typical trait is to present the world in an utterly subjective perspective, radically distorting it for emotional effect, to evoke moods or ideas. Expressionist artists sought to express the meaning of "being alive" and emotional experience rather than physical reality.

Paul Klee:"The great chess game", 1937
Location: Kunsthaus, Zurich, Switzerland

Klee's painting, rendered in the German Expressionist style, arranges the canvas into a kind of pattern or code of colored squares that take the form of a chessboard. This compositional system of squares recalls Kandinsky's notion of a codified language of abstraction, especially when we consider how the runic pieces are cryptographically evocative of hidden meaning. These pieces seem to spell out an abstract game position that makes no real sense in terms of actual chess, but plenty of sense in terms of artistic pattern and compositional arrangement.

ROMANTICISM: Romanticism is a complex artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Western Europe, and gained strength during the Industrial Revolution. The movement stressed strong emotion as a source of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as trepidation, horror and awe.

Hummel Johann Erdmann:"Chess Players", 1818-1819
Location: Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany

ACADEMICISM: academic art was an art movement and a style of painting that was in fashion in Europe from the 17th to the 19th century. Academicism laid great emphasis on the strict and formal technical aesthetic rules set out by the academies of art; influenced by the movements of Neoclassicism and Romanticism, attempting to synthesize both of their styles.

Jean Leon Gerome:"Arnauts playing chess", 1859
Location: Wallace Collection, London

RENAISSANCE: One of the distinguishing features of Renaissance art was its development of highly realistic linear perspective, treating a painting as a window into space. 

Lucas van Leyden:"The game of chess", 1508
Location: Staatliche Museum, Berlin, Germany

In Northern Europe the important and innovative school of Early Nederlandish painting is in an essentially Gothic style, but can also be regarded as part of the Northern Renaissance, as there was a long delay before the Italian revival of interest in classicism had a great impact in the north.

NATURALISM: in art refers to the depiction of realistic objects in a natural setting, in reaction to the stylized and idealized depictions of subjects in Romanticism. Naturalism began in the early Renaissance as a type of art that pays attention to very accurate and precise details, and portrays things as they are.

Honore Daumier:"The chess players", 1863
Location: Musee du Petit-Palais, Paris, France

REALISM: Realism in the visual arts refers to the general attempt to depict subjects "in accordance with secular, empirical rules", as they are considered to exist in third person ob without embellishment or interpretation.

Thomas Eakins:"The chess players", 1876
Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA

The painting is a small oil on wood panel depicting Eakins' father Benjamin observing chess match. Author Martin Berger has analyzed the content of the painting in detail, finding it an evocation of the passage of time and ascribing it a highly personal meaning in Eakins' life. The younger chess player's attempt to kill the older player's king is analogous to the Oedipal complex. In the way that his father Benjamin is placed in opposition to Eakins the painter, the two may be envisioned as playing out a psychological "conflict" across the other axis of the chess board. In this light it is not coincidental that the painting was made on wood panel rather than canvas. While Eakins has humbled himself before his father in signing the painting only by reference to being Benjamin's son, he also presents his father ambivalently. Elevating his father's status, he places Benjamin centrally, with the vanishing point behind Benjamin's head. Yet Eakins has obscured his father's face by shadow and by the angle at which he looks down upon the game. Although the painting was dedicated to Benjamin, the title "The Chess Players" curiously leaves Eakins' father out of the narrative of the picture.

SYMBOLISM: The symbolist painters mined mythology and dream imagery for a visual language of the soul, seeking evocative paintings that brought to mind a static world of silence. The symbols used in symbolism are not the familiar emblems of mainstream iconography but intensely personal, private, obscure and ambiguous references. More a philosophy than an actual style of art, symbolism in painting influenced the contemporary Art Nouveau movement. In their exploration of dreamlike subjects, symbolist painters are found across centuries and cultures, as they are still today.

Georges Braque:"La Patience", 1942
Location: Goulandris Collection, Lausanne, Switzerland

This painting shown in 1943 at the Salon d'Automne, is rife with symbolism. A woman with an anguished mien appears to be seeking an answer in the cards. It is at once a message of hope— it seems to encourage "patience in times of trouble"— and a card game by the same name, patience being another name for solitaire. The chess board suggest the same patience which is needed in a chess game.

SURREALISM: Surrealists paintings were generally based on dreams. Their paintings were filled with familiar objects which were painted to look strange or mysterious. They hoped their odd paintings would make people look at things in a different way and change the way they felt about things. They thought that their paintings might stir up feelings in the back of peoples minds. Bernard Delvaille has described surrealism as "Symbolism plus Freud", well illustrated in Dali's painting:

Salvador Dali:"Metamorphosis of Narcisus", 1937
Location: Tate Modern, London

The painting Metamorphosis of Narcissus was created in 1937 by oil on canvas by Salvador Dali. This painting uses a lot of images to say what it means, for example, a person, a hand, water, a starving dog, a chess board, a canyon or cliff, and people. This is not to fill the paper or distract the viewer from the suggested meaning or point, but to support the idea that hope and despair are reflections of one another; on opposite sides of a coin, spinning in mid-air, waiting to land and fix or destroy everything.
The first thing that one thinks upon first seeing it, from far away, is that Dali just painted the same thing twice. From afar, it appears as if he simply cut the canvas down the middle and made one side brown and the other blue, but on closer inspection, one sees that the two sides, although very similar, are nothing alike.
On one side, there sits a limp body staring at the reflection of herself in the water that she sinks in. The setting sun glistens off the back of her head, but she just wallows in grim depression and boredom. The canyons trap her in the barren wasteland as she sits motionless, without movement, struggle, or life. This mysterious figure looks so vacant that it might as well be dead. Nothing is happening on this side, so one’s attention is directed to the other.
On the other side, a blue decaying hand emerges from the ground with ants crawling on it, possibly making their homes in it or finding food on it. Atop this pedestal, rests an egg with a flower sprouting from it. This display of life emerging from the dead is a symbol of hope and beauty. To the left of the hand, a very unhealthy malnourished dog feasts on fresh meat; his salvation is handed to him and he survives. Behind the dog is a chess board with a young man in the middle of it, proudly surveying the battlefield as though it were his kingdom. To his left are people on a road that leads off into the horizon. All these things symbolize new beginnings out of old life and hope from death.
The message that Salvador Dali was trying to get across is that hope and despair, failure and victory, and life and death are all equal forces, each one pulling the other in an eternal war to balance everything. It’s all a cycle, and like all cycles, it repeats itself forever and ever, and there’s no way of having one without the other.

POSTMODERNISM: The traits associated with the use of the term postmodern in art include bricolage, use of words prominently as the central artistic element, collage, simplification, appropriation, a return to traditional themes and techniques.

Ilija Penusliski:"Homage to Lasker"

Homage to Lasker is a painting painted directly on a real chessboard. One day, the artist was inspired and in a split second the normally horizontal board was suddenly turned vertically on his easel. The rigidly divided space of the board has now been altered and the divisions between the squares are now blurred.
But one thing is certain: there are no players, no clock, no captured pieces and no kibitzers whispering better moves in one’s ear. All the normal décor of a painting depicting a chess scene is gone. Only the bare essentials are left. And those essentials are the ones that every chess player looking at the board during a game would see. My pieces, his pieces, I take, he takes, equilibrium, advantage, lack of advantage and complexes of weak and strong squares.
The dynamics of the position have been brought down to the bare fundamentals. The position of the individual pieces on the board together with the use of colour are what express the inner relationship between the figures, objects and squares.
The world does not exist any more; the world is the chessboard.

POP ART: Pop art can be any every day item that is drawn in a brash and colorful way. Pop Art is short for Popular Art. It is inspired by comic strips, advertising, and popular entertainment.

Andy Warhol:"Chess Player", 1954
Location: Artist Rooms National Galleries
of Scotland and Tate

This early drawing has a surreal quality created by the larger-than-life chess pieces and study of a face, surrounding the young man playing chess. In his later work Warhol would continue to play with scale, enlarging objects and people to increase their iconic status. The colour in this image was possibly completed at one of Warhol’s colouring parties, hosted at the fashionable Serendipity 3 café after it opened in 1954. He would encourage his friends – some of whom would have helped him create the original illustrations - to colour the works with an inventiveness that adds to their whimsical nature. This process looks forward to the production methods of Warhol’s legendary studio, the Factory, in the 1960s.

Chess, as we have seen, is a particularly versatile image in terms of its iconographic significance. As an iconographic trait, the image of chess serves to evoke one or more of the predetermined themes that have been traditionally associated with the game throughout the history of art. By studying the iconography of particular images as they have been incorporated into various works at various times, we can sometimes give ourselves a useful head-start in the difficult task of interpreting the meaning of a given piece of art.

December 23, 2010

Win an unique Rotterdam Chess Set!

Great news for the chess lovers: announces that there is a competition connected with the Tata Steel Chess Tournament in January to win three Rotterdam Chess Sets.

All you have to do is:
1. Send your predictions by email: for all three Groups: A, B and C
2. Name of the winner
3. Number of points 

Closing date 13th of January 2011 at 24.00.

Teun Koorevaar announces the competition: "Among the best predictors we have a lottery to give away three sets of the new Rotterdam Chessgame. Announcement of the winners on the last day of Tata Chess. The chess pieces represent famous buildings in Rotterdam City. It just arrived on the Rotterdam market and is a collectors item."
You can send your predictions to:

The pieces represent striking buildings in Rotterdam:

King: Euromast
Queen: Erasmus Bridge 
Rook: The Meuse 
Knight: Shipping and Transport College 
Bishop: World Trade Center 
Pawn: Cube Houses.


Erasmus Bridge

De Maas is Rotterdam's River,
(in English: The Meuse).
Probably the rook is designed after the
high buildings that can be seen along the river.

The Shipping and Transport College

World Trade Center

The cube houses

I wish I could win this beautiful chess set with such a remarkable and creative design...Maybe Caissa will help me?! Another option is to buy it:

There are two places from where you can buy (see underneath) the Rotterdam Chess Set for 250 Euro, including taxes. An XXL version of the same Rotterdam set can be purchased for 2500 Euro, including taxes, and it can be used for schools for example. You can see it exposed in the Central Library in Rotterdam, with an explanation of the pieces as well.

I am sure kids will love it, as it can be seen in the following video, from the previous year in a children festival:

These are the places from where you can buy the sets mentioned above:

1.Rotterdam Info

Binnenwegplein, Coolsingel 195-197
3012 AG Rotterdam 

Tel. 0900-4034065 (€ 0,35 p.min.) +31 (0)10 271 01 20 (Internat.)

2.Het Schaakstukkenmuseum (The chess pieces museum) 

Overblaak 94
3011 MH Rotterdam
(vlakbij de Centrale Bibliotheek Rotterdam)

Unusual chess sets

Because it's Christmas time and everyone is buying, giving, searching for gifts, I thought to share with you a selection of unusual chess sets. There are so many extremely beautiful collectible and rare items on the market that my task, very enjoyable though, became kind of difficult:)
Some of the chess sets presented underneath are available for purchase, some are taken from private collections and others are works of art from famous designers.
There are only two problems:
1. They are quite expensive
2. It's difficult to play with these sets:)

I will start by presenting you one of the most expensive chess sets in the world:

Renowned French artist and master of jewelry, Bernard Maquin created the Royal Diamond Chess set in 2005 bringing the game of chess to a whole new level. Noted for its abililty to combine fine art, jewelry, and the classic game of chess, this is one of the most expensive chess sets in the world.
Thirty craftsmen, under the direction of Maquin spent over 4500 hours creating the expensive chess set. The work was done all by hand and when it was completed, the artists used 1168.75 grams of 14 carat white gold, and approximately 9900 black and white diamonds, bringing the total weight to 186.09 carats and the total cost to $500,000.

This posh chess set is part of the Charles Hollander Collection, one of the most respected names in the diamond industry. 
But if you thought the Hollander set would make your chess game bling-bling, then you haven’t seen the most expensive chess set in the world yet. This label goes to the Jewel Royale Chess Set from Britain. Boodles, a British custom jewelry company commissioned its production.
Valued at over £5 million ($9.8m USD), this single chess set is the most expensive and exquisite game set of any kind in the world. Constructed of gold and platinum, it contains diamonds, emeralds, rubies, pearls and sapphires. The king piece alone weighs 165.2 grams of 18 carat yellow gold and has a spiraling mid-section graced by 73 rubies and 146 diamonds.

Further on you can enjoy the variety of unusual designs of Chess sets:
Designed by the chess sculptor: Oleg Raikis

Vertical Chess Set:

Givan Design Studio
Eating, Drinking and Playing Chess:)

Salt and Pepper Chess set

Edible Chess Set

Mario Chess Cake
Table Chess Set:

Fantasy and Mythology:
Fairies vs Faires

Dragons and Wizards

Gods of Greek Mythology
The Eastern Hemisphere:

Japanese Sumo Wrestlers


From the movie:
"Lucky number Slevin"



Doorknobs for cabinets


Geometric painted chess set:

There are plenty of sets, with differents motifs, to choose from: sport, celebrities, music etc. If we cannot afford to have them all, we can at least enjoy looking:)