- Man Ray
- Chess set (1962)
- inscribed Man Ray and numbered III/V (on white king); chess board perimeter inlaid with the artist's poem in French specially composed by Man Ray in 1962 for this edition and inlaid with his facsimile handwriting:
le Roi est à moi
la Reine est la Tienne
la Tour Fait un four
le Fou est comme vous
le Cavalier déraille
le Pion fait l'espion
comme toute canaille
Fait de toutes pièces
Man Ray - 1962
- Chess set comprising thirty-two French silver chess pieces presented on an enamel and gilt-metal inlay chess board, mounted on a wooden table top board with storage drawers for chess pieces.
Thence by descent to the present owner
Arturo Schwarz, Man Ray, The Rigour of Imagination, London, 1977, no. 327, illustration of another example from the edition p. 217
Jean-Hubert Martin, Rosalind Krauss & Brigitte Hermann, Man Ray; Objets de mon affection, Sculptures et Objets, Catalogue raisonné, Paris, 1983, illustration of another example from the edition p. 161
Chessmen are representations of entities or characters, essentially composed of geometric forms and Man Ray was at liberty to redesign and modify their forms from classical chessmen. When placed on the checkered board, their stage or battleground, and set into play, they are forced into a dialogue with one another, suggestive of fortuitous encounters, taking on new roles, pre-determined by the rules, permission and limitations of the game. A consuming investigation of the animate and the inanimate is set into motion and Man Ray breathes further life into these human representations.
The present work, a fully-fashioned chess set complete with its playing board and storage compartments for the chessman, was produced in an edition of fifty examples plus artist's proofs in 1962. Chess sets from this edition are the most elaborate of all Man Ray's chess sets since he designed it to be displayed and played - the last comparable from the edition was sold at Sotheby’s, London, in 1999.
Man Ray chess sets, manipulated and nurtured over the course of his career, reflect Man Ray’s ‘dazzling multiplicity of talents’ (Merry Foresta et al, Perpetual motif: The Art of Man Ray, 1988, Washington, D.C.. p. 9). Chess Set (1962) illustrates Man Ray’s extraordinary dexterity in his multi-disciplinary approach and his desire to innovate and accomplish – much like the subterfuge of a game of chess.