"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." Marcel Duchamp, 1952.
This collaboration with RS&A brings together 16 chess sets designed by some of the world's leading contemporary artists in celebration of the 'game of kings' and its continued relevance to the creative arts.
These specially commissioned chess sets have been created by: Maurizio Cattelan, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Oliver Clegg, Tracey Emin, Tom Friedman, Paul Fryer, Damien Hirst, Barbara Kruger, Yayoi Kusama, Paul McCarthy, Alastair Mackie, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Matthew Ronay, Tunga, Gavin Turk and Rachel Whiteread. Each set is individually crafted in a wide variety of different materials including wood, porcelain, glass, amber and silver.
This exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery will be the first time that all 16 chess sets are displayed together and it will also be the first public showing of a new commission by British artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster. Famous for their shadow sculptures, the artists have taken the opportunity to return to their on-going fascination with dead animals and have created a woodland chess set complete with hand carved tree stump with bronze chess pieces inspired by the artists' collection of mummified animals - found on their farm in Gloucestershire - squirrels take the roles of King and Queen and frogs act as Pawns.
The game of Chess is believed to have originated in the 7th century in India and no other game in history has been so widely reflected in art and literature. Chess remains an intriguing and complex subject for these contemporary artists, who have chosen to create outstanding works of art, each infused with their individual style.
For example, Rachel Whiteread pursued her love of dollhouses when creating her game from miniature furniture. Tom Friedman's chess set is equally intricate and playful, presenting a mini-retrospective of the artist's best-known works. Barbara Kruger has created the first ever talking chess set with each piece specially programmed to either ask a question or make a statement when moved. The set by Damien Hirst has glass and silver casts of medicine bottles that act as chess pieces, while the American artist Paul McCarthy, a keen chess player, has made his set from random objects found in his own kitchen such as a coffee grinder and a ketchup bottle serving as Rooks.
The Art of Chess began life with five sets commissioned by RS&A and exhibited at Somerset House in 2003. Since then the exhibition has grown in size and toured the world showing in leading museums and galleries in the USA, Russian Federation, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Czech Republic, Australia and Switzerland.
This unique exhibition demonstrates that the game has lost none of its inspirational power in the 21st century and continues to provide an intriguing starting point for artistic expression centuries after the game was invented.
The Saatchi Gallery and RS&A, in association with HUGO BOSS, will be presenting The Art of Chess from 8th September - 3rd October 2012.