Tom Hackney exhibits in World Chess Hall of Fame

by ChessBase
5/13/2016 – Chess has always been a topic of artists and painters and some artists were also good players. One of them was Marcel Duchamp, who in the 1920s was one of the strongest players in France and even played in Olympiads. With an exhibition by British artist Tom Hackney the World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis now pays tribute to Marcel Duchamp. Press Release...

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British Artist Tom Hackney Debuts New Exhibit of Paintings at the World Chess Hall of Fame

Exhibition opens Thursday, May 19 and runs through Sept. 11, 2016

SAINT LOUIS (May 5, 2016) — The World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) will debut an exhibition of paintings, Tom Hackney: Corresponding Squares: Painting the Chess Games of Marcel Duchamp, on May 19.

Chess Painting No. 62 (Grimme, Luuring, Ree & Krabbe vs. Duchamp, correspondence game, 1961), 2016

The exhibit was recently on view at Francis M. Naumann Fine Art in New York and represents the British painter’s first solo show in the U.S. This is the second collaboration between the Saint Louis Chess Campus and the Naumann gallery. In 2009, to commemorate the U.S. Chess Championships, Marcel Duchamp: ​Chess Master, traveled from the Saint Louis University Museum of Art to the Naumann gallery, with support from the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

“We are thrilled to welcome Tom and his work to the World Chess Hall of Fame,” Shannon Bailey, WCHOF chief curator, said. “His paintings are not only visually compelling, but also skillful and graceful representations of Duchamp’s historic games.”

Hackney’s paintings, all on linen, are geometric abstractions based on the movement of chess pieces in games played by the celebrated French artist and chess player, Marcel Duchamp​ (1887-1968)​, from the early 1920s through the 1960s. Duchamp once said that playing a game of chess was like making a drawing: “The chess pieces are the block alphabet which shapes thoughts, and these thoughts, although making a visual design on the chessboard, express their beauty abstractly, like a poem.”

Hackney’s art represents this visual design in a single static image. It was Duchamp’s goal to elevate art from a purely visual experience to something more cerebral, an aspiration that Hackney accomplishes in these paintings, which are influenced by ideas that took place on the 64 squares of a chessboard.

The exhibition’s title is a subtle allusion to the book on endgame strategy, Opposition and Sister Squares are Reconciled, that Duchamp wrote in 1932 with Russian-born chess master Vitaly Halberstadt.

Chess Painting No. 2 (Duchamp vs. Crepeaux, Nice, 1925), 2009

Hackney chose the word “corresponding” to suggest that, through his work, he has entered into a dialogue with Duchamp’s games. This exchange continues as viewers attempt to decipher the moves that generated the patterns Hackney has so skillfully and gracefully recorded. Some paintings are in black and white, like opposing chess pieces in a traditional chess game, while others are ​derived from a color-coded chess set that Duchamp designed in 1920.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to exhibit at the World Chess Hall of Fame and to be part of a wonderful program examining the intersection between art and chess,” Hackney said. “As well as being a beautiful game, chess impresses a metaphorical model and mode of thinking that has been ever-present in my life and art since I first learnt to play as a child.”

  •  The exhibit opens on Thursday, May 19 (Opening reception at 6 p.m.) and will remain on view through Sept. 11, 2016.
  •  Admission is free with a suggested donation of $5 per person.
  •  World Chess Hall of Fame Hours: Mondays and Tuesdays (10 a.m.–5 p.m.), Wednesdays–Fridays (10 a.m.–9 p.m.), Saturdays (10 a.m.–5 p.m.) and Sundays (12 noon–5 p.m.)

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Tom Hackney will be in Saint Louis and available for media interviews on Thursday, May 19th and Friday, May 20th. Call (314) 518-7225 to schedule.

About the World Chess Hall of Fame

The World Chess Hall of Fame is a nonprofit organization committed to building awareness for the cultural and artistic significance of chess. It opened on Sept. 9, 2011, in the Central West End after moving from previous locations in New York, Washington D.C., and Miami, Florida. The World Chess Hall of Fame is located at 4652 Maryland Avenue, housed in an historic 15,900 square-foot residence-turned-business, and features the U.S. and World Chess Halls of Fame, displays of artifacts from the permanent collection and exhibitions highlighting the great players, historic games and rich cultural history of chess. The World Chess Hall of Fame partners with the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis to provide innovative programming and outreach to local, national and international audiences. For more information, please visit the World Chess Hall of Fame online at

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