Chess games of the rich and famous: Duchamp vs. Man Ray

Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray, playing chess, in Paris

Marcel Duchamp, left, and Man Ray, playing chess, in Paris - source of photograph unidentified

Duchamp again, this time on a rooftop in Paris, playing chess against Man Ray.

The photograph is later than 1915, when Duchamp moved to the U.S. to avoid World War I, and met Ray; it is probably after 1918.

The two even played chess in a movie:

Man Ray directed a number of influential avant-garde short films, known as Cinéma Pur, such as Le Retour à la Raison (2 mins, 1923); Emak-Bakia (16 mins, 1926); L’Étoile de Mer (15 mins, 1928); and Les Mystères du Château de Dé (20 mins, 1929). Man Ray also assisted Marcel Duchamp with his film Anemic Cinema (1926) and Fernand Léger with his film Ballet Mécanique (1924). Man Ray also appeared in René Clair‘s film Entr’acte (1924), in a brief scene playing chess with Duchamp.

The photo above is a still from that 1924 René Clair movie — it comes about 4:30 into the movie (the version shown here is half of the 20-minute movie, with a very modern, surrealist music score added; you can see the entire movie from Pathé, with a more contemporary score, here).

Update, March 14, 2011:  See also this story from 2008 about Duchamp’s need to play chess, featuring of photo of Duchamp, Teeny Duchamp and the composer John Cage deeply engrossed in a game.  A good read about chess, and Duchamp.

Tip of the old scrub brush to

4 Responses to Chess games of the rich and famous: Duchamp vs. Man Ray

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Greg, formally it’s known as a “combination gun.” I’m no gun expert, but Wikipedia mentions them:


  2. Ed Darrell says:

    You mean the cannon in the film? Other than that, I have no idea whatsoever.

    I’ve been wondering how to record that game they played — is there such a thing as a “washout?”


  3. Greg Laden says:

    What is that firearm with the large and small barrel?


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