January 24, 2012

OUT OF THE BOX Profile: Guido van der Werve, Number Twelve: Variations on a Theme, 2009

Posted in Exhibitions

ulmer1024116997506px72dpiGuido van der Werve, Number Twelve: Variations on a Theme, (the king’s gambit accepted, the number of stars in the sky, and why a piano can’t be tuned, or waiting for an earthquake), 2009. Courtesy of the artist, Galerie Juliette Jongma, Amsterdam, Marc Foxx, Los Angeles, and Luhring Augustine, New York.

Guido van der Werve, Number Twelve: Variations on a Theme, (the king’s gambit accepted, the number of stars in the sky, and why a piano can’t be tuned, or waiting for an earthquake), 2009

Guido van der Werve takes mixing chess and art to an entirely new level. While learning how to play the game, van der Werve was also studying music and saw an interesting parallel between the possible limitless combination of chess moves and the possible limitless combination of musical notes. Deciding to explore this matter further, he created his own instrument—a hybrid chessboard and piano. The instrument consists of the regular piano percussion parts under what appears to be a “regular” chessboard/table. Each chessboard square when pushed upon triggers a hammer which strikes a string and plays a note. A 30-minute game and musical orchestration was built around a match composed by Russian Grandmaster Leonid Yudasin. The musical piece is completed with the two piano/chess players, a composer and a nine-piece orchestra.

The unique piano is currently on display at the World Chess Hall of Fame as part of our OUT OF THE BOX: Artist Play Chess exhibition. Included in this installation are photograph which are stills from a 40-minute video of the piece which is on display at the Saint Louis Art Museum until January 8, 2012. We were honored to have Number Twelve performed at the World Chess Hall of Fame on September 13, 2011 with Guido and Matthew Bengtson as the game players, nine members of the St. Louis Symphony, and Ward Stare, Resident Conductor of the St. Louis Symphony. 

For more information about this work and other works seen in the exhibition, click here.

OUT OF THE BOX: Artists Play Chess is curated by Bradley Bailey and is on view until February 12, 2012.