Weekend Art: Chess
|Chess is an ancient game of mental skill between two players, with simple rules but great depth to the play. In art, chess is commonly used to symbolize either intellectual ability or challenge ("three moves ahead") from the perspective of the controlling player, or else role in the system ("just a pawn") from the perspective of a piece. There is a decent amount of art related to chess, from literature (e.g., Nabokov's The Defense ) to poetry (e.g., Eliot's The Wasteland ) to painting (e.g., Duchamp's "Portrait of Chess Players" ) to film (e.g., Searching for Bobby Fischer ). There are also the great chess games themselves -- do they qualify as art? They certainly inspire with their beauty. Below the fold, some music, paintings, and games...|
First up, the musical Chess , which produced the gloriously 80s pop song "One night in Bangkok" (left) as well as more traditional musical fare like "I know him so well" (right). Most of the plot worked better in the context of the cold war, but the high cost of seeking perfection at chess is an enduring theme that reflects the sad reality of too many chess champions. Kasparov seems to be one of the few who has gone on to make a significant career in an unrelated field, as he fights for democracy in Russia.
Next, some modern art, this from the surrealist painter Errico , who incorporates chess into some of his work. On the left is "Knight to d4" (available for purchase here ) and on the right is "Ice Chess" (available for purchase here ). You may enjoy checking out his other work as well. (Used with kind permission of the artist.)
Finally, some of the great games, taken from this list . All the images link to the chessgames.com java-based move-by-move presentation. I've clipped out one of the highlights from each game, and of course there are many more I could have picked (some much more famous) to include here. What are your favorites? Got any gems of your own? Do you think the most brilliant games qualify as "art" or not?
I'm also curious what non-chess players think of chess-related art, and how they view chess itself (sport? entertainment? occasionally art?).
Finally, I was thinking it might be fun to do a blog-vs-blog chess match. Obviously the discussion of the moves would have to take place in a hidden setting (chat room?). Something like a move per day, with those people who were interested collaborating... anyone on board?
Previous installments in the weekend art series:
Feb 24: Madonna of the Yarnwinder and art theft
Mar 01: Pros and cons of digital cameras
Mar 08: Barber's Adagio and interpreting classical music
Mar 15: Romeo and Juliet re-imagined
Mar 29: Paul Weller, one of the best Brit rockers
Apr 05: Waves in paint, verse, and song
Apr 13: Finlandia
Apr 20: Flash fiction
Apr 26: The open road
May 04: Kentuckey Derby edition