Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Takako Saito | Hat Chess Game

Takako Saito
Hat Chess Game
Self-published, 1990
40.6 × 53.3 × 68.6 cm
Edition of 10 [+2 AP]

Reimagined chess sets were a staple of Fluxus, which George Maciunas once described as "a fusion of Spike Jones, gags, games, Vaudeville, Cage and Duchamp." Marcel Duchamp was a chess player reportedly at the 'master' level (“while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists,” he famously said of the game) and taught John Cage so that they could play together (once in public, on stage in Toronto, documented by another Fluxus artist Shigeko Kubota).

Yoko Ono's all-white set (Play it By Trust) remains the best known, but the artist most dedicated to exploring the possibilities of game was Takako Saito, with hat chess being her least compelling. Her other sets include Grinder Chess, Spice Chess and a game where you can only distinguish your pieces from your opponents through smell (Smell Chess).

Hat Chess Game is a bowler hat which is signed and numbered on the inside brim of the hat. It was produced in an edition of 10 black hats with 2 artists proofs in grey (above).

The work is available from Raphael Levy for €4,000, here.

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