Readymake: And You May Find Yourself 3-D Printing A Marcel Duchamp Chess Set


A couple of years ago Scott Kildall created Playing Duchamp, an online chess program designed to simulate the chess play of the artist, and incorporating the designs of two of the chess sets Duchamp created over the years.


As a non-chess-player, my own personal favorite is the Pocket Chess Set, 1943, which he planned as a mass market product, but which ended up as a limited edition. [The image above is from the example the Arensbergs donated to the Philadelphia Museum.]

But I also like the sleek, Art Deco-inspired set Duchamp had carved in Buenos Aires when he arrived there in 1918-19. The knight especially reminds me of the Futurist-ic Horse sculptures of Marcel's brother, Raymond Duchamp-Villon.


Anyway, Kildall has collaborated with Bryan Cera to recreate Duchamp's Buenos Aires chess set from archival photos, and to release them as 3D-printable models. The first draft was uploaded to Thingiverse a few weeks ago. Titled Readymake, the Duchamp Chess Set has already been printed in several media and finishes by Makerbot community members. They look pretty sweet. [That's Cera's image of his proof set above.]

Cera writes that his and Kildall's concept was "resurrecting objects [like the Chess Set[ that have been lost...This set no longer exists save the archival photograph pictured above." Well, and this photo:


And the chess set itself. This pic's from a 2008 Duchamp exhibit at the Fondacion Proa in BA, that lists the chess set as belonging to a private collection. And Francis Naumann included the set in his 2009 exhibition, Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess in New York.

No problem: if the set was not exactly lost before, thanks to Cera and Kildall's project, it is now much easier to find.

UPDATE: No, there is another. This carved knight on the page for Francis Naumann's exhibition catalogue, Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess, is different from the "lost" Buenos Aires set.


Please don't make me dig out my copy of Naumann's catalogue raisonnesque Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Making Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction to figure this out...

Readymake: Duchamp Chess Set []
Resurrecting Dead Objects []

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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