Iceland's Reykjavik Art Museum is the setting for a major new exhibition featuring fifteen original chess sets and boards made by a 'who's who' of contemporary art, including Damien Hirst, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Tracey Emin and many others. These stunning pieces differed greatly from artist to artist - not only in size and materials, but also in the apparent agenda of the artist.
Most intriguing is 'Chess set, 2003' by the Chapman Brothers, featuring creepy mutated child-like figures similar to those shown at the Saatchi Gallery in London. 'Amorphous Organic, 2008' by artist Alistair Mackie is also impressive, featuring a geological sample viewing table with the chess pieces represented by single insects suspended in amber. The piece was made all the more visually stunning by a light box set into the table to illuminate the insects - split between the 'white' pieces, which are winged, and the 'black' which are not
Iceland is a particularly relevant setting for such a show as it held what is widely considered the most controversial chess match in history, the 1972 match between the American Bobby Fischer and Soviet champion Boris Spassky, publicised as something of a Cold War battle through chess. Fischer was quoted as saying 'Chess is war on a board: the object is to crush the other man's mind.' The controversial Fisher died in Iceland in 2008 shortly after being granted citizenship by the Icelandic government.
The Art of Chess, curated by Mark Sanders, Julia Royse, and Larry List, continues at the Reykjavik Art Museum until 13 April 2009, offering talks by the artists, large scale real chess games and many other innovative takes on this most regal of games.