Surrealism and Chess

KNIGHT: You play chess, don't you?

DEATH: How did you know that?

KNIGHT: I have seen it in paintings and heard it sung in ballads.

DEATH: Yes, in fact I'm quite a good chess player.

KNIGHT: But you can't be better than I am.

DEATH: Why do you want to play chess with me?

KNIGHT: I have my reasons.

DEATH: That is your privilege.

KNIGHT: The condition is that I may live as long as I hold out against you. If I win, you will release me. Is it agreed?






The chess game is a brilliant metaphor for man's attempt to defy mortality's gravity through his accomplishments, perhaps most vividly in the idea of artistic genius, the need to create a vital work which will survive the author's death. The movie fiercely addresses itself to the agony of belief, the need to believe in a God who remains silent, mysterious, absent. The knight is confronted by the cowled figure of Death, who agrees to a game of chess, and lets the knight stay alive for as long as he can stave off checkmate.[Peter Bradshaw] Det sjunde inseglet Disillusioned and exhausted after a decade of battling in the Crusades, a knight (Max von Sydow) encounters Death on a desolate beach and challenges him to a fateful game of chess. Much studied, imitated, even parodied, but never outdone, Bergman’s stunning allegory of man’s search for meaning, The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet), was one of the benchmark foreign imports of America’s 1950s art-house heyday, pushing cinema’s boundaries and ushering in a new era of moviegoing. A SET OF 31 PLASTER AND WOODEN CHESSPIECES. Party painted in brown. Probably the same set that was used in "The Seventh Seal" from 1957. The white king is missing. Damages. The white king is missing. Probably made by scenographer Per-Axel Lundgren. Estimate: SEK 10 000 - 15 000 / € 950 - 1 400 Hammer price: SEK 1 000 000 / € 92 600 28 September 2009 In medieval Sweden a knight returns from war only to find a ravaged homeland. He meets up with a group of travelling players and eventually confronts the embodiment of death with whom he engages in a game of chess. Sydow, a disillusioned knight on his way back from the Crusades, tries to solve the mysteries of life while playing chess game with Death, who has offered him a short reprieve. Spellbinding, one-of-a-kind masterpiece helped gain Bergman international acclaim.
A SET OF 31 PLASTER AND WOODEN CHESSPIECES. Party painted in brown. Probably the same set that was used in "The Seventh Seal" from 1957. The white king is missing. Damages. The white king is missing. Probably made by scenographer Per-Axel Lundgren. Estimate: SEK 10 000 - 15 000 / € 950 - 1 400 Hammer price: SEK 1 000 000 / € 92 600 28
Title: Culture Hero
Artist: Les Levine
Work date: 1970
Coll.: Indianapolis Museum of Art
Medium: screenprint

Media sculptor and conceptual artist Les Levine was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1935. In his formative years, he attended the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London, England. He immigrated to Toronto in 1958 and continued his art education at the New School of Art where he focussed on photography and painting. Les moved to New York in 1964, where today he still lives and works.
Les exhibited with the Isaacs Gallery, Toronto between 1965 and 1983. [source: www.ccca.ca]



Title:Self Portrait After Dominique Orsini
Artist: Branco Dimitrijevic
Work date: 1977




Title: Marcel Duchamp's World Tour: Playing Chess with Tracey,
detail, 2003-05
Artist: Peter Blake
Work date: 2003
Coll.: Waddington Galleries, London

A highly influential and original artist, Peter Blake is often described as the godfather of British Pop art. [Albert Dock, Tate]




Title: Artist Peter Blake and actress Carol Holt recreate the scene of a chess game between Marcel Duchamp and nude model Eve Babitz at Sotheby's auction house on February 1, 2007 in London. [source: LIFE, Getty Images]




Title: Stupid Artist Wu Mingzhong Apologize to the work Play chess of
Du Shang
Artist: Wu Mingzhong
Work date: 2006
Coll.: YANG Gallery
Medium: propylene





Title: Errorist Kabaret
Artist: Etcetera
Work date: 2009
Medium: instalation at Istanbul Bienale, 2009
Etcetera… was formed in 1997 in Buenos Aires by a group of visual artists, poets, puppeteers and actors, most of whom were under 20 at the time. They all shared the intention of bringing art to the site of immediate social conflict -the streets- and of bringing this conflict into arenas of cultural production, including the media and art institutions. Etcetera… worked closely with the human rights group H.I.J.O.S. (Children for Identity and Justice Against Forgetting and Silence) in developing and popularizing “escraches,” acts of public denunciation that seek a form of social justice not beholden to the state’s legal and judicial institutions. They often work with street art that is by nature ephemeral and circumstantial. They form part of the urban scene as a statement of protest, denunciation or signalling; and as a result it pertains to a specific time and place. In their practice, Etcetera… employ a great sense of humour, poetic discovery and all the destructuring potential they possess to forge a new kind of committed art: free of hackneyed rhetoric and often quite sarcastic and “incorrect”, the results of which are destined to persist in people’s memories.[source: Etcetera]





About Errorism and the International Errorist:

A new term, a new word-action, infiltrates dictionaries, emanates from the great encyclopaedias and invades the Internet search engines: ERRORISM.

Errorism: practice or philosophy that bases its actions on error.
Errorists: multitudes, subjects or groups that practice Errorism.

The International Errorist is an international organization that claims error as a philosophy of life. Today, errorism and its actions receive wide help from the international community, adding members , collectives and individuals around all the world , dispreading their practices and their philosophy, being satisfied with new autonomous cells of International Errorists that expand all over the world.
[source: Etcetera]
Dealer Francis Naumann played Yoko Ono on her all–white chess board, Play It by Trust, 2002, during the exhibition Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess at Francis Naumann Gallery.
Francis Naumann researched for 40 years Marcel Duchamp's preoccupation with chess.[source: artnews.com]
Yoko Ono and curator Shinya Watanabe playing chess  at the opening  of the exhibition,  Into the Atomic Sunshine -- Post-War Art under  Japanese Peace Constitution Article 9,  on 12 January 2008 at Puffin Room, New York.

This conceptual artwork is better known as Play It By Trust, first conceived in 1966 and a renamed version White Chess Set  was created in 1987 as a tribute  for the 75th birthday of composer John Cage.

There are no black chess pieces, only white pieces, thereby eliminating the idea of an opponent or enemy. As the players get further in to the game, it becomes increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish whose pieces are whose. The idea of us and them becomes erased. [Jean Downey]

Yoko Ono was the first artist to invert the notion of chess, 
to make it a metaphor for peace, rather than a game of conflict. [Shinya Watanabe]

Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution:
Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. (2) To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.









Title: Evening Game
Artist: Oxana Yambykh
Medium: oil on canvas,
120 x 50 cm







Title: Collage whith Marcel
Artist: Pierre Bismuth
Medium: Collage on offset black & white print, 40 x 50 cm (54 x 65 cm framed)
Work date: 2003
[Source: Erna Hecey Gallery]