Robb Design Portfolio: Surreality Check

<< Back to Robb Report, October 2005
  • Sheila Gibson Stoodley

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

From Around the Web...
A rendering of the new Christie's center in Beverly Hills.
Set to debut in April, the 5,400-square-foot center will feature two floors for sales and events…
More than 100 of Britto’s original works will be on exhibit and for sale…
Phillips auction house’s Robert Manley shares the secrets to building a successful art collection…
The ultra-exclusive writing instrument collection abounds with diamonds and gems that twinkle like...
AP/REX/Shutterstock
The lineup of heavy hitters include articles once owned by Evel Knievel, Babe Ruth, and Jim Brown…
UI/REX/Shutterstock
Although left on the block, the psychoanalyst’s signed oath and letter can still be bought online…
The late artists’ respective pieces could bring billionaire buyers together at Christie’s in London…
Photo by Nate D. Sanders Auctions
The book contains a letter that Columbus penned about the people and places he discovered on his...
From a hunting knife to a copy of the Constitution, these items have become iconic of their owner…
Photo by Moscow The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts
Sergei Shchukin’s beloved art collection has not been assembled at a single site since the 1940s…