Artsy Insight: Two Marcels and Chess

“Any artist that says he’s not influenced by Marcel Duchamp now is kind of lying to themselves,” Marcel Dzama once said. In creating his film A Game of Chess (shown), in which human chess pieces dance and battle their way across a life-sized chess board, Dzama drew influence from the latter part of Duchamp’s career, in which the famed Dadaist largely retreated from art-making and dedicated himself to playing chess. Although Duchamp’s was not the only influence present in the work (Bauhaus artist and designer Oskar Schlemmer and Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein being important factors as well), for Dzama, the primary impetus was unambiguous; when asked why he chose to illustrate and enliven chess, Dzama simply answered, “because of Marcel Duchamp.”