Thursday, April 09, 2009

Detroit Institute of Arts II

The other great exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts was a real surprise - a collection of chess boards from across the centuries and the regions of the earth. As Nicole pointed out, most often at art museums you see objects organized by era, region, and type: Victorian plates here, Dutch masters there, etc. Rarely does an exhibition feature a single object as interpreted by many different movements, as these extraordinary chess sets did. It struck me that it would be a great way to teach art history to introduce a new current or school by showing how it interpreted a chess set: whether Islamic non-figurative art or surrealism through Dali's finger-board. I'm showing at right one of the pawns from an 18th century Italian all-insect set. I highly recommended you look at the pictures here and here (the latter in pdf form). The capitalists vs. communists set from Leningrad in 1925 is extraordinary, though nothing if not unsubtle.

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