Chess Set1944 by Max Ernst

Designed by Max Ernst (1891-1976), German

Chess Set, Designed 1944
King size: 4 1⁄2 x 2 1∕8 in.

Ernst’s famous chess set is a beautiful balance of hard angles and delicate curves. The design reflects contemporary trends in modernism, particularly as he blended traditional Western chess piece designs with forms derived from African, Oceanic, and Native American art.

In this set, the largest piece is actually the queen, an unusual departure from convention that may reference her importance and power in the game. The distinctive silhouettes of this piece and the bishop grace the cover of the Duchamp-designed invitation to The Imagery of Chess.
Click to select the cover image for this artwork.
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Tags: chess set
Location: Philadelphia Museum of Art , Philadelphia