World-Renowned Photography and Contemporary Art Exhibits to Open at the World Chess Hall of Fame in Saint Louis this October
Exhibits bring humanity of chess to life through the work of legendary photojournalist Harry Benson and award-winning artist Peter Manion
This fall, the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF), the only institution of its kind to present world-class exhibitions exploring the connections between chess, art, culture and history, will unveil two exhibitions featuring the photographs of legendary photojournalist Harry Benson and the contemporary artwork of Peter Manion. Harry Benson: Kings & Queens and Universal Turf: Peter Manion will open to the public Oct. 5, 2018, and be on display at the World Chess Hall of Fame through Mar. 24, 2019.
Both exhibits provide a new perspective on the intersection of art and chess, engaging visitors with the best of visual storytelling and interactive art. Kings & Queens displays a collection of Benson's world-renowned photography, including images of World Chess Champions Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky, current American chess greats and iconic photos from Benson's career highlighting American presidents, world leaders and pop culture icons.
Universal Turf is a conceptual, mixed media installation of new, never-before-seen works created to challenge our ability to adapt and interact, much like a game of chess. Unlike traditional "do not touch" pieces in a typical gallery setting, Manion encourages viewers to handle, crumple and trample some of his works, which are dependent on visitor interaction to alter the artwork with time.
Harry Benson: Kings & Queens
Celebrating Renowned Photojournalist and Bobby Fischer Confidant Harry Benson
Harry Benson: Kings & Queens showcases a collection of iconic photography portraying World Chess Champions Robert "Bobby" Fischer and Boris Spassky; current top American chess players Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So and Hikaru Nakamura; World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen; American presidents; British royalty; and newly-commissioned images from the 2018 Sinquefield Cup.
"Since our first collaboration, the 2012 exhibition Bobby Fischer: Icon Among Icons, I've been excited about the possibility of working with Harry again," said Shannon Bailey, chief curator, WCHOF. "It is interesting to see how Harry has captured the rivalry between 2018 Sinquefield Cup competitors Fabiano Caruana and Magnus Carlsen, especially with the world chess championship title on the line this November."
The exhibition is a legendary compilation of images spanning Benson's 60-plus year career, highlighting rare, behind-the-scenes shots of the famously reclusive Bobby Fischer, who befriended the celebrated photographer while he covered Fischer's World Chess Championship run in the 1970s. Solitude and silence grip the viewer in Fischer Alone at Night in Buenos Aires, which portrays Fischer sitting alone on a park bench in near darkness, bathed only in the faint glow of nearby streetlamps. In contrast, Bobby Kissed by a Horse offers a more revealing perspective, showing Fischer's fondness for animals as a horse affectionately nuzzles his face.
"[Bobby] was an amazing chess prodigy and the most extraordinarily complicated and fascinating person I have ever met," Benson said. "And I feel privileged to have been one of the few he chose to let into his life."
Additional photographs of iconic figures will round out the exhibition including images of Sir Winston Churchill, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Queen Elizabeth II, Charles de Gaulle, Lyndon B. Johnson, Bobby and Jackie Kennedy, Barack Obama, Prince Phillip, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and Donald Trump, among others.
Harry Benson: Kings & Queens is generously supported by Emerson. Financial assistance for this project has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.
Universal Turf: Peter Manion
Exploring Parallels Between Chess and Humanity Through Contemporary Artwork
Universal Turf: Peter Manion explores the parallels between chess and humanity. A conceptual, mixed media installation of new, never-before-seen works by Saint Louis-based artist Peter Manion, the immersive exhibit challenges our ability to adapt and interact on a universal scale.
"This show is about keeping an open mind and being approachable, tolerant and inclusive," Manion said. "The relationship between the materials and the audience is intended to transcend these types of interactions in our world."
Prioritizing reflection over reaction, Manion creates an intriguing environment built from a variety of common, home improvement materials in lieu of traditional art mediums. The sculptural artwork, which is constructed of large, plaster-coated panels of dyed felt, which is creased, crushed and compromised repeatedly to produce a tactile, crackling effect, revealing a raw, brightly-colored substrate behind an infinity of web-like complexity and handmade texture.
Patrons will enjoy sharing space with a variety of colorful sculptures, which are juxtaposed with a massive, seemingly fragile backdrop that spills off the gallery walls, interrupting the rigid floor. Visitors seeking a more intimate experience can connect with a series of organic drawings and designs.
"Manion's body of work explores the social and personal spaces that shape our views, searching for touchstones of an often-forgotten fact — we are all connected in our humanity," Bailey said. "Just as a game of chess requires the ability to adapt to the ever-changing combinations of moves, we must be able to re-evaluate and consider other ways of thinking and feeling."
Financial assistance for this project has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.
About the World Chess Hall of Fame
The World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to building awareness of the cultural and artistic significance of chess. It opened Sept. 9, 2011, in the Central West End after moving from previous locations in New York; Washington, D.C.; and Florida.
The WCHOF is located at 4652 Maryland Avenue, housed in a historic 15,900 square-foot residence-turned-business, featuring World Chess Hall of Fame inductees, United States Chess Hall of Fame inductees selected by the U.S. Chess Trust, displays of artifacts from the permanent collection and exhibitions highlighting the great players, historic games and rich cultural history of chess. The WCHOF partners with the Saint Louis Chess Club to provide innovative programming and outreach to local, national and international audiences.
About Harry Benson CBE
Scottish-born photojournalist Harry Benson CBE gained fame while on assignment to photograph the Beatles in 1964, capturing their iconic pillow-fight scene. His work ranges from photographs of world leaders to pop stars, all portrayed with an immediacy and naturalness that speaks of a confidence and rapport between sitter and photographer.
Benson has photographed every United States president from Eisenhower to Trump; was feet away from Bobby Kennedy the night he was assassinated; in the room with Richard Nixon when he resigned; on the Meredith March with Martin Luther King, Jr.; and was present when the Berlin Wall went up and when it came down. On Jan. 1, 2009, Benson was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Benson was under contract to LIFE magazine from 1970 until it closed in 2000. In addition, he has worked for The London Sunday Times, Vanity Fair, Time, Newsweek, Architectural Digest, Quest and People magazine — impressively shooting over 100 covers for the magazine.
Benson has had over 40 museum and gallery solo exhibitions and 16 books of his photographs have been published, including Bobby Fischer (2011), New York, New York (2011), The Beatles on the Road, 1964-1966, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Beatles coming to America (2012) and the recent Harry Benson: Persons of Interest (2017). Benson has a new book, Paul McCartney, which will be published by Taschen in the spring of 2019.
In 2017, Benson was inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame in Saint Louis, Missouri, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Center of Photography in New York. Benson has also received an Honorary Doctorate from The Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow University; Saint Andrews University, Scotland; and Glasgow Caledonian University.
About Peter Manion
Saint Louis-based artist Peter Manion received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Manion's works hint at his background in drawing, and his emphatic strokes and subject matter offset a playful use of material, style, and sense of humor.
Manion's use of non-traditional methods, materials, and practices gives his work an animative quality, lending variance and movement to what once was undisturbed, bringing the work closer to the idea of a living object.
Manion has been the recipient of multiple awards, including an Award of Excellence at Art Saint Louis and the Judge's Award of Merit at Kranzberg Arts Center, in addition to several recent exhibitions: La Fragua to Vermont: Works on Paper at Houska Gallery, Saint Louis; Imagery of Chess: Saint Louis Artists at the World Chess Hall of Fame, Saint Louis; and En La Noche, El Convento de Santa Clara de la Columna del Siglo XV, Belalcazar, Spain.
SOURCE World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF)
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