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Publication of ‘Duchamp’s Pipe: A Chess Romance’ by Celia Rabinovitch

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About this event

The International Society for the Study of Surrealism is delighted to present this virtual book launch of Duchamp’s Pipe: A Chess Romance. Author and artist Celia Rabinovitch will be in conversation with author and artist, Ann McCoy, followed by an audience Q&A. Learn more about the book online .

About the book

Spanning three decades, two continents, two world wars, and the international art and chess scenes of the mid-twentieth century, Duchamp’s Pipe explores the remarkable friendship between art world enfant terrible Marcel Duchamp and blindfold chess champion, George Koltanowski.

Artist and cultural historian Celia Rabinovitch describes each man’s rise to prominence, the chess matches that sparked their relationship, and the recently discovered pipe that Duchamp gave to Koltanowski. This tale of genius and resilience offers fresh insights into the meaning of the gift in the bohemian underground, revealing the exchange between the chess wizard George Koltanowski and the artist Marcel Duchamp.

Shortlisted for the 2021 Vine Award in Canadian Jewish Literature for history.

“Riveting and insightful, poetic and heartbreaking” –“In a history that manages to be both highly structured and kaleidoscopic, Celia Rabinovitch reveals the chess friendship between surrealist artist Marcel Duchamp and chess champion George Koltanowski. Her compelling narration is based on interviews, previous histories, and a wealth of unearthed material – from photographs to exhibition posters to score books, and by tracing those moments that the two men’s biographies intersected, including their chess matches, the gifts they exchanged, and the art objects they created together, she explores Duchamp’s philosophy of the intersection of chess and art.” – Vine Awards Jury“Duchamp’s Pipe offers a delightful and fascinating study of Duchamp’s career in a manner remarkably attuned to his sensibility. This book shows how the richest form of thinking in the arts may lie in attempting to match the mind to the matter of matter.”—CHARLES ALTIERI, Stageberg Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of Wallace Stevens and the Demands of Modernity

“In the smoky world of coffee house chess, Duchamp’s Pipe reflects the aura of audacious bohemia living in Europe’s wartime shadows. The pipe links the irony of Duchamp to the vaudevillian showmanship of Koltanowski, tracing a mystery based on original material uncovered by Rabinovitch.”—ADINA KAMIEN-KAZHDAN, senior curator of Modern Art at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and author of Remaking the Readymade


Celia Rabinovitch, PhD, MFA, artist, writer, and scholar, weaves the artist’s experience into a new understanding of modern art, poetry, history, biography, and cultural anthropology. Duchamp’s Pipe: A Chess Romance- Marcel Duchamp & George Koltanowski (North Atlantic Books: Berkeley, 2020) was nominated for a Vine Award in Canadian Jewish Literature for history, 2021 and recognized by scholars of art, Surrealism, poetry, and cultural history. Her influential book, Surrealism and the Sacred: Power, Eros, and the Occult in Modern Art uncovers the struggle between the sacred, occult and secular streams in modern art.She has held positions as Program Director for Fine Arts, Music, and Graphic Design at University of California Berkeley Extension (1992-2002) where she was also a John A Sproul Research Fellow in Canadian studies, fine arts and anthropology (2013) and a visiting scholar-artist. She has been director and professor at the School of Art, University of Manitoba, Canada, and a professor in art studio at Syracuse University, and in art history at University of Colorado at Denver. She has taught at California College of the Arts, the San Francisco Art Institute and Stanford University, and has been an invited speaker at Cornell University, the Israel Museum Jerusalem, University of the Arts, Philadelphia, and elsewhere. Her luminous paintings have been shown in Canada, Europe and the USA, and she has held artist residencies at Syracuse Graduate Painting Program; University of Victoria, British Columbia Centre for Studies in Religion & Society, and in 2021 at, St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Her exhibition, The Lost Expressionist: Nick Yudell, a Photographer Discovered, is at the Manitoba Museum until August 2022. Duchamp’s Pipe is her second book.Discover more at Other works can be viewed at

Ann McCoyAnn McCoy, MA, artist, writer, and Editor at Large for the Brooklyn Rail in New York, was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation award in 2019, for painting and sculpture. She has taught in the graduate design section of the Yale School of Drama (2010- 2020), and the Art History Department at Barnard College (1980 – 2000). Ann McCoy worked with Prof. C.A. Meier, Jung’s heir apparent for twenty-five years in Zurich She has studied alchemy since the early seventies in Zurich, and Rome at the Vatican Library, and recently offered a course on Jung, Art & the Alchemical Imagination for the Jung Archademy, Canada.Ann McCoy’s work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Australia, the Roy L. Neuberger Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others. She has received awards from the Asian Cultural Council, the Pollock Krasner Foundation, the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Award, the Award in the Visual Arts, the Prix de Rome, the National Endowment for the Art, the Berliner Kunstler Program D.A.A.D. Discover more online .


Date/Time: Thursday June 23:30 pm GMT, 4:30 pm BST

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Purchase the Book: Code: duchampDiscount: 30% (Duration: present-June 15 Applies to print and digital copies)

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