Jan 30, 2009

It's Friday, Play Chess!

I am not a great chess player. I just don't have the patience for it. I can't be in silence for long periods of time (3 minutes is a very long period of time for me) and even when I love to think strategically I tend to think out loud..., not really useful when it comes to chess.

Nevertheless I have always loved what you can do with a chessboard -creatively speaking- and the collection "The Art of Chess", now at the Reykjavik Museum, is the perfect example.

Part of Gilbert's Collection, the sets on display in the Icelandic Museum includes fifteen unique chess boards made by internationally renowned contemporary artists. Artists include Damien Hirst, Maurizio Cattelan, Rachel Whiteread and more.

The ones I liked the most are the following:

1. Good and Evil - Mauricio Cattelan;
with hand painted porcelain figures representing people he admires and despises like "White King" Adolph Hitler and "Black King" Martin Luther King, surrounded by characters like Rasputin, Donatella Versace and Gandhi.

Click to enlarge

2. Mental Escapology - Damien Hirst:
uses etched pill bottles and a mirror board displaying the biohazard sign.

Click to enlarge
3. Amorphous Organic - Alastair Mackie: Each chess piece encapsulates a single suspended insect; the "white" pieces are represented by flying insects and the "black" side by ground based insects. The chessboard design a light box set into the surface of the table to illuminate the insects trapped in the clear amber pieces.

I also loved the set by artists Jake and Dino Chapman but I couldn't find a really good picture of that set.

As I said previously I find a chess set an object with endless possibilities. I have seen sets made of salt and pepper shakers and Pepsi and Coke cans or this beautiful photographic set.

I specially remember one that I saw in Buenos Aires, populated by gnomes, witches and magicians. I didn't buy it (it wasn't cheap of course, I don't play the game and there was the issue of how well that could travel) but I bought instead a backgammon made of gnomes that I promise I will show here at some point.

The game of chess may not be for everyone but chessboards as a creative playground are priceless!

Via and via (among others)

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