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"Donation Dora Hartwig"
2006-12-06 until 2007-02-05
Bauhaus Archiv, Museum für Gestaltung
Berlin, , DE Germany

The Bauhaus Archiv, Museum für Gestaltung in Berlin presents Donation Dora Hartwig. Josef Hartwig was workshop master in charge of sculpture at the Bauhaus in Weimar. In 2003 his daughter Dora Hartwig made the Bauhaus Archive a generous gift of not only the chess table that her father designed for his famous Bauhaus chess set but also a a large number of important works of art that he had owned. They include extremely rare prints by his Bauhaus colleagues Feininger, Kandinsky, Klee and Schlemmer along with many drawings and a sculpture by Gerhard Marcks.

An item of very special importance is a copy of Max Beckmann’s Apocalypse dedicated to Josef Hartwig. Until he was dismissed in 1933, Beckmann taught with Hartwig at the Frankfurt Art School. The book was produced in a very small wartime print run in 1943. It contained hand-coloured litho illustrations and escaped the attention of the Nazi censors.

The focus of the exhibition is Josef Hartwig's legendary functionalist chess set, developed between 1922 and 1924 at the Bauhaus. The shape of the chessmen was no longer based on historical models but defined solely by their function in the game of chess. The aim was to make the rules of the game easier to understand for everyone, including beginners. “The new chess pieces,” Hartwig wrote, “are made out of simple stereometric bodies – the cube and the sphere. Singly or in combination, their shape indicates how the piece moves on the board, and their volume indicates its value. The pawn and the castle move parallel to the edge of the board as expressed by the cube. The knight moves in an L-shaped rectangular pattern and combines cubes at a right angle. The bishop moves diagonally in relation to the edge of the board as a saltire cut out of a cube. The king moves both at a right angle and diagonally, a small cube superimposed at a 45° angle on a larger one. The queen, the piece that can move most freely, consists of a cube and an orb.” The chess set was made in numerous versions and materials. They are here seen for the first time together – from the early one-offs to the low cost, mass-produced “consumer set”.

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