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Art

Judit Polgar Chess Foundation
Budapest Főváros Önkormányzata

Art



The mystical world of chess takes the receptive spirit to a lifelong journey, just like the visual arts, dance, theatre or the mysterious world of the movies. On the one hand when we speak about chess and art, we refer to chess as a subject in the different fields of arts. On the other hand chess by itself is also art in its essence, with grandmaster Paul Keres's words: "Chess is the most interesting game of them all. It is a challenging expression by ones character. Chess is art, creation, the duel of characters." In this sense we can see the parallel between chess and the arts, in both the desire for creating and passion. There is the dialogue between the artist and his audience, as well as the players on each side of the chess board with continuous  interaction,  reacting to each other's moves, reassessing their positions move of by move. "Not all artists may be chess players, but all chess players are artists."- said the famous artist Marcel Duchamp, who was not only a great painter and sculptor of the conceptual arts, but also a strong chess master representing the French team on the Olympic Chess Team.

 

 

Some of the earliest examples of chess-related art come from medieval illustrations accompanying books and many artists have used chess themes as a subject in their paintings throughout art history. Some of the most famous include Lucas van Leyden's painting "The Chess Players" dating back to 1508 in Renaissance Europe. In each artistic period in the history of art, you can find chess related works of art. Naturally many artists of the Cubism including Duchamp experimented with the 64 square board and the chess pieces in their paintings.  One of the best-known figures in 20th-century art Pablo Picasso also used chess elements in his extraordinary art and so did his friend another leading artists of the time: Henri Matisse. In his colorful paintings, chess and the models who played the game were seen in different light with his unique technique put on the canvas. Just to name two more from the huge list, the checkered themes can be found in the works of the great surrealist Salvador Dali and in many of Victor Vasarely op-art works.

 

 

Chess and music also goes hand in hand since many of musicians get inspired by chess and most chess players get inspired by listening to music during their chess training.  In some cases as with André Danican Philidor, the talent is shown in both music and chess. For some time Philidor was among the leading opera composers in France and during his musical career as a composer he produced over 20 opéras comiques. A sculpture of Philidor can still be seen on the beautiful facade of the Opera Garnier in Paris. Philidor used to play blindfold chess simultaneously on several boards and was regarded as the World's best chess player of his age. His Analyse du jeu des Échecs was considered a standard chess manual for at least a century while one chess opening and certain endgame technical methods are named after him in professional chess. Another brilliant brain on two black and white mediums, in both classical music and the chess arena is Mark Taimanov, a top Russian concert pianist and chess grandmaster.

 

One of the major composers of the 20th century Sergei Prokofiev was also a passionate chess player, having in his panoply a win a game against the world champion Jose Capablanca in a simultaneous chess exhibition. Another famous Hungarian composer Ivan Fischer is also a big chess fan, when not on musical tours he frequently challenges the Polgar sisters on the big chess celebrations held in Budapest.

 

In literature among the many works including the theme of chess the most famous might be the following: Lewis Carol's  Through the Looking-Glass with impressive illustrations just like in the gloomy but beautifully written The Royal Game by Stefan Zweig. Several great books were not only best sellers in their printed versions but also in the movie theaters when making it to the big screen. To name just a few: Vladimir Nabokov's The Defense,  Searching for Bobby Fischer by Fred Waitzkin or on top of the popular list J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone with the fantastic scene of  "Wizard's Chess".

 

Talking about books and movies, you can hardly find a successful film without a chess scene in it, from the evergreen Ingmar Bergman's Casablanca,  Sherlock Holmes stories printed or in movies, Star Wars or X-Man where Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen play the hero and villain. The James Bond movies are no exception and the1963 British-American 007 thriller From Russia with Love is another great example of how a chess game can inspire the film makers. Check out both the chess scene from the movie and the combination of the original chess match between the grandmasters Spassky and Bronstein that inspired the scene here.

 

 

 

Judit Polgar Chess Foundation
Budapest Főváros Önkormányzata
Halhatatlan Magyar Sportolók Egyesülete
Budapest Zoo, Világsakkfesztivál
Judit Polgar Chess Foundation
Budapest Főváros Önkormányzata
Halhatatlan Magyar Sportolók Egyesülete
Budapest Zoo, Világsakkfesztivál