Man Ray (Emmanuel Radnitzky) Chess Set 1920–1926

  • MoMA, Floor 5, 513 The David Geffen Wing

Man Ray enjoyed chess, relishing that the game by design requires both strategy and spontaneity to play. Though Man Ray remained “a third-rate player,” as he put it, his interest in the game “was directed towards designing new forms for chess pieces.” Manufactured in 1926 and based on his design for an earlier turned-wood set, Man Ray’s chess set converts the familiar form of every chess piece into a more stylized shape that relies on associations—such as the connection between a king and an Egyptian pyramid—to reveal each piece’s identity.

Gallery label from 2019
Silver-plated and oxidized silver-plated brass
Tallest piece: h. 4" (10.2 cm) Case: 2 5/8 x 21 1/4 x 16 1/2" (6.7 x 54 x 41.9 cm)
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund
Object number
© 2024 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Architecture and Design

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