Imagery of Chess
Julien Levy, along with Marcel Duchamp and Max
Ernst, put on a show at the Levy Gallery called Imagery of Chess.
The show ran from December 12, 1944 through January 31, 1945. Duchamp was
undoubtedly the impetus behind the show which included 32 listed contributors
(actually, a few more), one for
each man on a chess board.
It was supposedly an intimate affair by invitation
only and, although it took place during the war almost no war-related themes
intruded on this celebration of Chess. It began with a lavish reception,
provided entirely by Kay Sage:
in addition to maintaining periodic contact with
those who remained in the city, Sage also continued to contribute financially to
projects promoting the modern artistic trends she cherished, such as the "Artists
in Exile" show at Matisse's gallery on 3-8 March 1942. Privately, she paid
the caterer's fee for the lavish opening reception of Levy's "Imagery of
Chess" exhibit, which hung during the 1943-44 [sic] Christmas-New Year
season. Publicly, she contributed a painting,
Near the Five Corners (1943), to the Levy show.
-A House of Her Own: Kay Sage, Solitary Surrealist
By Judith D. Suther
Midway through the show, January 6, 1945, George
Koltanowski gave a
A blindfold exhibition fit nicely into Duchamp's
conception that the chess board and pieces were a necessary, yet imperfect
interface between the mind and the game. His desire to re-design the board and
pieces was centered on the idea that the physical elements of chess should
interfere as little as possible with the mental elements. A better design would
suggest the correct movement by its visual aspects. Blindfold players don't use
such a physical interface - a fact not at all lost on Duchamp.
On the brochure, designed by Duchamp, one of the
premises for the show was put forth:
Cannot a new set be designed, that is, without too radical a departure from
the traditional figures, at once more harmonious and more agreeable to the touch
and to the sight, and above all, more adequate to the role the figure has to
play in the struggle?
Those 32 contributors, as listed in the
Click on the name to view the piece along with much
those in dark blue are unknown, but still
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1. Eugene Berman 2. Peter Blume 3.
Breton 4. John Cage
5. Alexander Calder 6. Mary Callery 7. Nicolas Calas
8. Julio De Diego
9. Marcel Duchamp 10. Max Ernst 11. Richard Filipowski
12. Arshile Gorky
13. David Hare 14. Jean Hélion 15. Antonin Heythum
16. Carol Janeway
17. Leon Kelly 18. Frederick Kiesler 19. Roberto Matta
20. Man Ray
21. Robert Motherwell 22. Isamo Noguchi 23.
Vittorio Rieti 24. Kay Sage
25. Xanti Schawinsky 26. Kurt Seligmann 27. Harold
Sterner 28. Muriel Streeter
29. Yves Tanguy 30. Dorothea Tanning 31. Ossip Zadkine
32. Dr. Gregory Zilboorg
Not listed, but also contributing were: 33.
Xenia Cage, 34.
Steffi Kiesler and
35. Julian Levy
(Levy didn't receive an invitation; Xenia Cage and
Steffi Kiesler were invited jointly with there husbands.)
Some additional information on