In 1944, Julien Levy invited a group of artists for a chess themed exhibition - The Imagery of Chess. The group included Man Ray, Duchamp and Ernst.
Speaking to the NY Times, Larry List had this to say:
In a weird way, this show was like the Manhattan Project...It brought together all these people and gave them a short time period and a big problem to solve. There was this critical mass that established a beachhead for modernist design in chess sets and modernist design in general.
Larry is the curator of a new exhibition that is set to open in New York, at the Noguchi Museum - The Imagery of Chess Revisited.
Read today's New York times report.
See also: Chess Prodigies and the Art of Chess, Art of the Game, The Art of Chess (Gilbert Collection).