Whitehot Magazine

October 2008, Duchamp in Buenos Aires

Transcription from the original document of each move made by the player: Marcel Duchamp and Valentín Fernandez Coria, 1924 courtesy Fondo Nacional de las Artes-Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Duchamp in Buenos Aires
By Maria Carolina Baulo

Marcel Duchamp was certainly one of the most famous representatives of Surrealism and Dadaism. Every task or goal he wanted to achieve in the art field, as well as in daily life, was outrageous and controversial. He was a man full of secrets and hidden talents, and one of those talents was his passion for chess.

Duchamp in Buenos Aires presents as well, art works especially made for the occasion by three generations of outstanding Argentine artists such as Xil Buffone, Eduardo Costa, Max Gómez Canle, Guillermo Gregorio , Marcelo Gutman, IMaDuBA (group of artists), David Lamelas, Emiliano López, Emiliano Miliyo, Esteban Pastorino , Gastón Pérsico, Provisorio Permanente (group of artists), Nicolás Radano and Axel Straschnoy. There’s a variety of paintings, photographs, objects, installations, drawings, sculptures and music to enjoy.

  Members of the International Chess Tournament, Paris, 1924 courtesy
 Fondo Nacional de las Artes-Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Buenos Aires is actually celebrating Duchamp´s first visit to Argentina, 90 years ago. In order to honor him, several argentine artists gathered together to present their works in a tribute. This unique exhibition presents, as the main attraction and for the first time ever, an unedited document where Marcel Duchamp himself, took notes of a chess match played in France.

Marcelo Gutman, In advance of a broken glass, 2007 mixed media courtesy Fondo Nacional de las Artes-Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The exhibition is focused on Duchamp´s ability to play chess, a skill he developed during his stay of nine months in Buenos Aires. Unfortunately there is very little information about those months, even though the information available is enough to show his obsessive compromise with chess.

 Eduardo Costa, Rueda (Wheel), 2007 courtesy Fondo Nacional de las
 Artes-Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The document consists in a technical data card of the chess match that took place in Paris between Marcel Duchamp and the great argentine chess player Valentín Fernandez Coria on July 19th, 1924, during the first (and last) International chess Tournament – Olympics. This manuscript, handwritten by Duchamp, has also his signature as well as the argentine’s player flourish with the certificate that certifies its veracity. The importance of it is to highlight Duchamp´s main activity during his visit in Buenos Aires: he played chess almost every night, becoming a “chess maniac”, as he said once.

Eduardo Pastorino, Fotografía Estereoscópica (Stereoscopic Photograph), 2007 courtesy Fondo Nacional de las Artes-Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“Duchamp considered chess as a work of art, almost like a sculpture because creation started in the mind to turn later into something the artist could build with his hands. In a very short time, Duchamp started an interesting career playing chess, he was even internationally awarded; and that career started in Buenos Aires when he was 31 years old. He even said he learned with the best argentine teacher, but never mentioned his name”, said Marcelo Gutman, the curator of Duchamp in Buenos Aires.

Eduardo Costa driving his Duchamp-Costa biclycle. Eduardo Costa, 2007 courtesy Fondo Nacional de las Artes-Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The document had an amazing journey since the day Duchamp signed it: his friend Tristán Tzará kept it for years and later gave it as a gift to the argentine surrealist poet Juan Andralis, who later gave it to the artist Hermenegildo Sábat, who actually owns the manuscript and exhibits it in this tribute, in public, for the first time.

 Xil Buffone, Del Campo (o la aparición de la esfinge)
 / From the Country (or the appearance of the sphinx),
 2007 courtesy Fondo Nacional de las Artes-Buenos
 Aires, Argentina.

The exhibition runs form November 8th, 2007 until January 31st, 2008. Fondo Nacional de las Artes-Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Maria Carolina Baulo

Maria Carolina Baulo, argentine, art writer, Master's Degree in History of Art, with studies in Cinematography, Photography and Theatre.

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