Robb Design Portfolio: Surreality Check

<< Back to Robb Report, October 2005

Unable to locate the original Plexiglas chess pieces that artist Isamu Noguchi made in 1944 for this chess table (left), Larry List, guest curator of The Imagery of Chess Revisited—which runs from October 21 through March 5, 2006, at the Noguchi Museum in Long Island City, N.Y.—spent nine months fashioning a replica set for the exhibit. List explains that Noguchi’s pieces followed the strictures of Chinese portraiture, which depicts subjects either head-on or in profile. But by joining the two parts of each piece at a 90-degree angle, Noguchi presented both perspectives. “From a rigorous traditional source, he arrived at revolutionary chess pieces,” List says.
 
Noguchi created the set for a show that ran in 1944 and ’45 at the Julien Levy Gallery in Manhattan. The exhibit included chess-themed works by artists in the surrealist movement, which peaked during World War II. (The Levy gallery closed in 1949.) The new show will feature 12 of the 13 chess sets from the Levy show, including Man Ray’s Silver Chess Set (1926, below), and several paintings and sculptures. Max Ernst’s The King Playing with the Queen (1944, above) is said to have been a tribute to fellow surrealist Dorothea Tanning, who, in 1946, became his fourth wife. “He stayed married to her for the rest of his life,” List says. “That’s probably why this queen is taller than the other pieces.” 

 

The Noguchi Museum, 718.204.7088, www.noguchi.org

Paola Russo discovered two decks in Italy at G. Lorenzi, one covered in gold leaf and the other in...
When the air had cleared after the frenzy of New York’s spring art auctions, players and spectators...
This circa-1900 pink-swirl marble is in what Dan Morphy calls “wet mint condition,” or as pristine...
Photo by Tom Forsyth and Ron Jarrell
With more than 275 million game sets sold in the past century, Monopoly is the most popular board...
Photo by Bob Tursack
Maya Angelou’s art collection focused on works by African-American masters...
The display is part of a hotel-wide renovation that will be completed by the end of the year...
Heritage Auctions will also offer Mickey Mantle’s rookie card and Mike Ditka’s Super Bowl playbook…
Photo by Cordero Studios⁄corderostudios.com
Charles and Judy Tate assembled a world-class collection of Latin American art—and then gave it all...
Photo by The Strong, Rochester, N.Y.
The American game culture is almost as old as the country itself...
Photograph by Ron Pierson, courtesy of Guernsey's
The bounty from the sunken ship includes 40 tons of silver and gold valued at $450 million…