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img860Great contributions to the Arts are recognized at times only decades later, unless you had the opportunity to be there at the time when it all happened. Here is such a case. In 1981, the Sotheby auction house sold the important Julien Levy Collection of Avant garde Art. The top of this post features the cover of the hardbound auction catalog that has an untitled construction by Joseph Cornell executed circa 1933-34 on the cover. Here is what the auctioneers had to say:

img862Artists represented in the sale were powerhouse artists like Man Ray, Max Ernst, Salvador Dali, Arshile Gorky, Matta, Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Cornell, Roy Liechtenstein and the Italian Massimo Campigli. A wonderful collection of various art forms had been assembled over the years.img868How about this mosaic by Campigli, for example? Joseph Cornell was represented by various lots and the piece below could be great inspiration for the many “book artists” working today in this medium.

img875A favorite pastime of many intellectuals and artists of the 1920’s-1960’s in Europe was the game of chess. Visiting various European towns, one can still see mostly older men playing the game in parks. Even in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the home of Harvard University there is a public space devoted to fanatical chess players who test their analytical thinking skills. Artists were also captured by the psychology of the game, as we can see in this painting by Dorothea Tanning in the sale titled The Game of Chess.img873Man Ray was featured with numerous works in the sale, but two captured my imagination. The two chess sets made out of different materials, made in very limited quantities.img866This 32 piece set is made out of wood in a limited series of 6 sets and dated 1945, the bottom set shown here is made out of anodized aluminum in red and gold colors.

img867Man Ray the “inventor”, I would tend to believe must have been aware of the chess set invented during the Bauhaus years by Joseph Hartwig , a master craftsman working at the Bauhaus in the sculpture class from 1921 through 1925. Hartwig’s set, pictured below, was designed in 1923 in a lacquered wood and  mass produced albeit in limited numbers. The picture is from Hans Wingler’s book “Bauhaus”. The set is an absolute first in abstract multiple design, ingenious in simplicity and totally in tune with the “modernist view” of Art as propagated by the Bauhaus Institute.

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