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The latest content and news from the Barbican. Book tickets at barbican.org.uk

Duchamp, Cage and the Art of Chess

When Duchamp returned to Paris in 1923, following his time at the helm of the New York art scene, it soon became clear his concentrations had turned away from art as he devoted his life to his other love – the game of chess.

Chess had been an ever present motif throughout Duchamp’s work so his decision to dedicate himself to the 8×8 board was by no means an admission that he was turning his back on art. Famously quoted as saying ‘all artists are not chess players – all chess players are artists’, Duchamp’s passion and talent for chess offered a new way of communicating with other artists through the strategies and symbolism of chess. And it was a language that John Cage was also keen to learn…

We spoke to Raymond Keene, chess grandmaster and chess correspondent for The Times and Sunday Times and artist and chess player, Barry Martin about Duchamp as a chess master and how learning chess allowed his followers to ‘suck in the Duchampian aura’.

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