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IMAGE GALLERY

This Constructivist chess set, made in 1937 in a Russian Gulag camp, is reproduced from
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 3/2/2017

Masterworks: Rare and Beautiful Chess Sets of the World

"The importance and ubiquity of chess in the Soviet Union meant it penetrated the darkest places," Will Wiles writes in FUEL's fascinating new release, Masterworks: Rare and Beautiful Chess Sets of the World. "Improvised sets could be very beautiful. One particularly fine example survives from 1937, the height of the Stalinist terror. It was made from matchsticks in a [Gulag] camp near the city of Vorkuta by an inmate known only as “engineer Shilov,” who died not long after its creation. Its pieces are dynamic, colorful bursts of abstract decoration, plainly influenced by the Constructivist art movement that had flourished during the Soviet Union’s brief period of cultural experimentation and plurality in the 1920s. True to Constructivist ideas, it is not purely abstract – its patterns have didactic purpose. Each takes as its central form the move made by the piece, so the bishop is a diagonal ricochet, and the queen a multi-directional starburst. The rook is an orthogonal composition resembling a miniature Malevich. The board, which folds and clips shut, is made of painted pine."

Masterworks: Rare and Beautiful Chess Sets of the World

Masterworks: Rare and Beautiful Chess Sets of the World

FUEL Publishing
Hbk, 8 x 10.5 in. / 232 pgs / 156 color.

$47.50  free shipping





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