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New Media Series—Guido van der Werve: Number Twelve: Variations on a Theme
September 9, 2011–January 8, 2012

In Number Twelve: Variations on a Theme, Dutch artist and filmmaker Guido van der Werve interweaves the unlikely fields of chess, astronomy, and music theory. The 40-minute film is divided into three movements, each set in a distinct location—New York City's Marshall Chess Club, Mount St. Helens, and the San Andreas Fault, throughout which van der Werve creates a seamless philosophical meditation on possibility, mathematics, and infinity. Appearing in the film, the artist ponders how to calculate the number of chess games it is possible to play and the number of stars in the sky. As he plays a chess game and wanders through vast and arresting landscapes, van der Werve's meditation is accompanied by a string ensemble performing his original score.

Curated by Tricia Y. Paik, assistant curator of modern and contemporary art, Guido van der Werve: Number Twelve: Variations on a Theme is on view in Gallery 301 from September 9, 2011 through January 8, 2012.

The one-of-a-kind chess piano built by the artist and featured in this film is currently on display in a related exhibition at the World Chess Hall of Fame, which recently opened in St. Louis. This exhibition, OUT OF THE BOX: Artists Play Chess on view through February 12, 2012, also features photographs from Number Twelve, as well as other chess-inspired artwork by artists such as Tom Friedman, Barbara Kruger, Yoko Ono, and Diana Thater. The World Chess Hall of Fame is located at 4652 Maryland Avenue, St. Louis, MO, 63108. For more information, please visit

To celebrate the opening of the World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis, the Saint Louis Art Museum has collaborated with the Hall of Fame and the St. Louis Symphony to present a live performance of the chess game featured in Number Twelve: Variations on a Theme. With accompaniment by the Symphony, artist Guido van der Werve will use his one-of-a-kind chess piano to stage the film's game with concert pianist and chess enthusiast Matthew Bengtson. Number Twelve: Chess Piano Concert in Three Movements will be performed on September 13 at 6:00 pm. For more information, visit

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