Art, chess, and an $87,000 pipe frame an inside look at the relationship between Dadaist artist Marcel Duchamp and chess Grandmaster George Koltanowski
Spanning three decades, two continents, two world wars, and the international art and chess scenes of the mid twentieth century, Duchamp's Pipe explores the remarkable friendship between art world enfant terrible Marcel Duchamp and blindfold chess champion George Koltanowski. Artist and cultural historian Celia Rabinovitch describes each man's rise to prominence, the chess matches that sparked their relationship, and the recently discovered pipe that Duchamp gave to Koltanowski. This tale of genius and resilience offers fresh insights into the essence of the gift in the bohemian underground. Rabinovitch invites us to discover the chess wizard and a Duchamp slightly off pedestal--and ultimately more human.
About the Author
CELIA RABINOVITCH, an artist, writer, and scholar, weaves the artist's experience into a nuanced understanding of modern art, history, cultural anthropology, and comparative mythology. Her previous book, Surrealism and the Sacred: Power, Eros, and the Occult in Modern Art, uncovers the struggle between sacred and secular forces in art from prehistory to Surrealism. Her other publications explore connections among art, history, and spiritual experience. Her luminous paintings have been shown in Canada, Europe, and the US. Educated at McGill University (PhD, religions) and the University of Wisconsin (MFA, painting), Rabinovitch directed the Extension programs in fine arts and design at UC Berkeley and served as director of the School of Art, University of Manitoba, Canada. She has taught at the University of Colorado, California College of the Arts, the San Francisco Art Institute, and Stanford University, and as invited speaker at Cornell University, the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and University of the Arts, Philadelphia, and has been an artist in residence at Syracuse University and the University of Victoria, British Columbia. Duchamp's Pipe is her second book.
“Duchamp’s Pipe offers a delightful and fascinating study of Duchamp’s career in a manner remarkably attuned to his sensibility. This book shows how the richest form of thinking in the arts may lie in attempting to match the mind to the matter of matter.” —CHARLES ALTIERI, professor of English at UC Berkeley and author of Wallace Stevens and the Demands of Modernity
“Duchamp’s Pipe is an utterly unique book. Celia Rabinovitch has accomplished something wondrous here: a work of scholarship that is also a dream, one worthy of the Surrealist figures that populate its pages.” —J. F. MARTEL, author of Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice and cohost of the Weird Studies Podcast
“Celia Rabinovitch gives us a first-rate art historical detective story—a page-turner that is hard to put down. Rabinovitch is one of the most brilliant and intuitive thinkers on Surrealism. Duchamp’s Pipe is a marvel of scholarship and a delight!” —ANN McCOY, artist, art critic, and editor at the Brooklyn Rail
“... the facets of Duchamp’s Pipe reflect the light of audacious bohemia living in Europe’s wartime shadows.” —ADINA KAMIEN-KAZHDAN, The David Rockefeller Senior Curator of Modern Art at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and author of Remaking the Readymade
“Delightful and enlightening! Rabinovitch investigates Duchamp as arbitrator in Giorgio de Chirico and André Breton’s duel ... giving pause on one of modern art’s tragedies.” —KATHERINE ROBINSON, scientific coordinator of Metaphysical Art: the Fondazione Giorgio e Isa de Chirico
“To prevail in the Duchampian universe requires a good story and the capacity to tell it. Rabinovitch’s book, like a play with a cast of characters led by George Koltanowski and Marcel Duchamp, delivers both.” —STEPHAN E. HAUSER, author of Kurt Seligmann,1900-1962: Leben Und Werk
“. . . The subtle and precise movements of chess pieces; the camaraderie with George Koltanowski and his ring of friends ... external gifts of exchange and imaginative consciousness of the materiality of the human world ... Rabinovitch adds life to our understanding of Duchamp.” —CHARLES H. LONG, author of Significations and Ellipsis
“A smoking reproach against staid scholarship—juxtaposing biography, industrial history, literary history, photography, and other disciplines to produce a fairy tale about chess and friendship, and a meditation on the contradictory role of the gift in the world of art.” —LINDSEY BANCO, author of Travel and Drugs in Twentieth-Century Literature
“A richly illustrated chess odyssey that winds across three continents tracing the intertwined lives of two of the more cerebral characters of the last century.” —HENRY M. SAYRE, Distinguished Professor of Art History, Oregon State University, and author of The Visual Text of William Carlos Williams