From Art to Performance: Marcel Duchamp’s Imagery of Chess Exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery
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In 1944, Marcel Duchamp organized a widely publicized exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York City, The Imagery of Chess. This thesis will explore The Imagery of Chess exhibition in terms of the intertwined aspects of Duchamp’s identity: artist, chess master, publicist of art, and curator. Using chess as a paradigm, the trajectory of Duchamp’s interest in chess as an object to chess as a process will be traced. This thesis will argue that the exhibition synthesized the “successive moves” of Duchamp’s career as an artist, chess master, publicist of art, and curator while popularizing European avant-garde art in the eyes of the American art public. The Imagery of Chess also served as a precedent for two subsequent performances in which Duchamp participated in the 1960s: his chess performance with Eve Babitz in 1963 at the Pasadena Art Museum and the 1968 Reunion performance with John Cage.