New Online Only

Isamu Noguchi Chess Set

$590 Non-Member
$531 Member
Members save up to 20% & free shipping $35+
New Online Only

Isamu Noguchi Chess Set

$590 Non-Member
$531 Member
Members save up to 20% & free shipping $35+

Color:  Multi

Size:  One Size

Item# 22291-165719 In Stock
15% off today! Members save 20%, applied at checkout
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Among the many chess sets designed by modern artists in the 20th century, few were as innovative and deeply rooted in tradition as this one by Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi. It was designed in 1944 during a time of wartime scarcity of quality materials, a situation that both limited and inspired Noguchi. He eventually landed on plexiglass, a new experimental material that was developed to mass-produce clear aircraft canopies and gun turrets.

Noguchi’s chess pieces are mini abstract sculptures and they became prototypes for the sculptures he later conceived in that era. The colors Noguchi chose are deeply rooted in Indian culture—classic Indian chess sets have red and green pieces, sometimes made from rubies and emeralds. 

The modern shapes of the pieces, with the exception of the rook, feature headlike forms and arched spines. Noguchi’s Perspex folding chess board evokes Indian and Persian black lacquered chess boards that had round inlays (in place of traditional squares) made from mother of pearl or ivory. Noguchi’s version is designed with red and translucent white circular plexiglass inlays.

Noguchi’s Chess Set was first displayed at a chess exhibition in 1944 at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York, organized by Levy and artists Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernset. The show also included sets by Alexander Calder, Man Ray and Surrealist manifesto author André Breton. 

This newly issued, authorized edition of the Isamu Noguchi Chess Set is made in Switzerland from Perspex plexiglass, including the folding board, which measures 22l x 24”w. The tallest piece, the King, measures 3”h.

Isamu Noguchi is represented in MoMA’s collection and his work has been featured in numerous exhibitions at the Museum, including Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000 (2012). 
  • Designer
    Isamu Noguchi
  • Size
    Board: 24l x 22"w
    Largest piece: 3" h
  • Material
    Perspex Plexiglass
  • Year of Design
  • Origin
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Why We Chose This
Considered one of the 20th century's most important and critically acclaimed sculptors, Isamu Noguchi created work that was at once traditional and modern. Among his works in MoMA's collection is a coffee table that was a 1939 commission from the Museum's president. The design reflects the biomorphic imagery of Noguchi's contemporary sculpture. He has been featured in over 50 exhibitons at MoMA, including 46 Painters and Sculptors under 35 Years of Age (1930) and The Value of Good Design (2019).

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At MoMA Design Store, all of the designs we sell are curator-approved and authentic. We ensure the integrity of our products through research and by working closely with the designers. Our products embody the spirit of good design objects in MoMA's collection. Some of them are actual designs represented in the Museum's collection.