The Art of Chess - Reykjavik Art Museum
(Image credit: press)

At times quite complex, often very compelling and always highly competitive, when people talk of the art of chess, they usually mean playing it well. With its current exhibition though – The Art of Chess - Reykjavik Art Museum is taking a look at how artists have reinterpreted the game’s design, rather than their skills in the actual game itself.

Chess set

(Image credit: press)

See some of the chess sets on display

The museum has gathered 15 chess sets, designed by contemporary artists from around the world, including Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Gavin Turk and the Chapman brothers. Not surprisingly interpretations have varied quite dramatically from the existential to the humorous, based on the principal criteria of the game - the hierarchical ranking of the pieces. From Mauricio Cattelan’s line-up of fictional and real villains and heroes from history with Hitler and Cruella de Ville cast as the King and Queen of evil to Rachel Whitread's dinky line-up of doll's furniture.

The exhibition has been curated by chess/art specialists Larry List, Mark Sanders and Julia Royse and includes a wide range of talks as well as interactive events, such as a ‘performance’ of Fluxus artist Takako Saito’s Liquor Chess and Canape Chess too.

Harriet Lloyd-Smith was the Arts Editor of Wallpaper*, responsible for the art pages across digital and print, including profiles, exhibition reviews, and contemporary art collaborations. She started at Wallpaper* in 2017 and has written for leading contemporary art publications, auction houses and arts charities, and lectured on review writing and art journalism. When she’s not writing about art, she’s making her own.