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Violinist and Young Woman Edgar Degas
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Violinist and Young Woman (70.167) — Edgar Degas

Master Pieces: Chess Sets from the Dr. George and Vivian Dean Collection

Saturday, January 10, 2009 – Sunday, May 17, 2009

  • For Everyone

This exhibition includes more than two dozen sets from the world-renowned collection of Dr. George and Vivian Dean. Ranging from the 16th to the 20th centuries, these chess sets represent exquisite examples from Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the United States.

Featuring a wide range of materials and designs, the pieces and boards demonstrate how differently artists throughout history and across the globe have interpreted the game of chess. The artists’ superb craftsmanship and creativity are explored, with sections featuring ivory and porcelain examples, including sets by Sèvres and Meissen. Some sets include tiny insects, sea creatures, and a variety of precious bejeweled objects.

Several themes are explored in the exhibition, including the ideological oppositions that the game of chess has been used to evoke, such as Good vs. Evil or Communism vs. Capitalism; the fascinating stories of set ownership, such as one commissioned from Fabergé and another once owned by Catherine the Great; and the variety of artistic styles, including abstract and modern. Some of the modern artists featured are Man Ray and Salvador Dalí.

This exhibition has been generously supported by Dr. George and Vivian Dean. Additional support has been provided by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the City of Detroit.

Feb 15 - Lecture: Master Pieces

Feb 27 - DIA Moment: 1 Chess Grand Master vs. 50 Detroit City Chess Club Members

March 13 - DIA Moment: Detroit City Chess Club Members Compete with a Living Chess Set

March 14 - Lecture: Birth of the Chess Queen