On Chess: The Enlightenment’s Wonder, Mystery, And Illusion

As I walk into the “Dare to Know: Chess in the Age of Reason” exhibition, I instantly feel surrounded by history. Even though I’m not a well-seasoned chess master, there are several unique chess sets and collectibles that catch my eye. As an artist, I am immediately drawn to the skillful craft and the aesthetics of the hand-carved chess sets. However, some of my favorite pieces in “Dare to Know” celebrate the wonder, mystery, and illusion of the Enlightenment.

In an occult-themed case is the “Tarot Cards of Marseilles,” a collection of time-worn cards from the turn of the 18th century used to predict the future. They feature a distinct, illustrative style deserving of appreciation. Even more impressive is the fact that, in addition to chess, Tarot proliferated the Enlightenment era. Much like chess’ duality, a game deep-seated in logic and rationality, Tarot offered a balance with its open-ended interpretations and mysticism.

Read the full article on St. Louis Public Radio.

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