Wade Stevenson II, Paris (sold: Hôtel Drouot, Christophe Joron-Derem, 12th June 2012, lot 48)
Galerie Ronny van de Velde, Belgium (purchased at the above sale)
Private Collection, Knokke (acquired from the above)
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2013
Arturo Schwarz, The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp, 1969, no. 391, another example illustrated p. 557
Arturo Schwarz, The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp, London, 1997, vol. II, no. 632, another example illustrated p. 864
Francis M. Naumann, Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Making Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, New York, 1999, no. 9.10, another example illustrated in colour p. 264
In a speech given to the New York State Chess Association in August 1952, Duchamp declared: ‘Objectively, a game of chess looks very much like a pen-and-ink drawing, with the difference, however, that the chess player paints with black-and-white forms already prepared instead of inventing forms as does the artist […]. Beauty in chess is closer to beauty in poetry; the chess pieces are the block alphabet which shapes thoughts; and these thoughts, although making a visual design on the chessboard, express their beauty abstractly, like a poem. Actually, I believe that every chess player experiences a mixture of two aesthetic pleasures, first the abstract image akin to the poetic idea of writing, second the sensuous pleasure of the ideographic execution of that image on the chessboards. From my close contact with artists and chess players I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists’ (quoted in A. Schwarz, op. cit., 1969, p. 68).
The title Hommage à Caïssa has its origin in a sixteenth-century poem by the Italian Renaissance writer Hieronymus Vida, which describes a game of chess between Apollo and Mercury, and in which a fictional Green tree spirit Caïssa is portrayed as the goddess of chess. Created in New York in January 1966, Hommage à Caïssa was executed as a limited edition Readymade, sold during the exhibition of the same title held the following month at Cordier & Ekstrom Gallery in New York, which Duchamp organised for the benefit of the American Chess Federation. According to the Catalogue Raisonné, although this work was projected as an edition of thirty, fewer than ten examples were actually issued.
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