Category: Surrealism

Eileen Agar, Three Symbols, 1930.

Eileen Agar,

Three Symbols, 1930.

José Gutiérrez Solana, Procession of the Dea…

José Gutiérrez Solana, Procession of the Dead, 1930. 

Hans Bellmer, Peg-Top, 1937.

Hans Bellmer,

Peg-Top, 1937.

Max Ernst, Europe after the Rain II, c. …

Max Ernst,

Europe after the Rain II, c. 1941.

The Exquisite Corpse

Some might have played this creative game before. This game was heavily used by those in the Surrealism art movement, and could have some fun results. Numerous people are needed to play. Each person contributes an image (drawing or collage) and then folds their piece so that the next person has no idea what has been drawn. In the end, a (usually bizarre) composite figure is created.

“Three (or more) of you sit down around a table. Each one of you, hiding from the others, draws on a sheet the upper part of a body, or the attributes able to take its place. Pass on to your neighbor on the left this sheet, folded so as to conceal the drawing, but for three or four of its lines passing beyond the fold. Meanwhile, you get from your neighbor on the right another sheet prepared in the same way (previously folded perpendicular to the axis of the body to be realized)…In the event that colors are used, it is a requirement to pass, along with the sheet, the colors, limited to the number of those used.”

Below, Nude, 1927, “Cadavre Exquis” with Yves Tanguy, Joan Miró, Max Morise, Man Ray, is a perfect example of this game.

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“Surrealist artists played a collaborative, chance-based parlor game, typically involving four players, called Cadavre Exquis (Exquisite Corpse). Each participant would draw an image (or, on some occasions, paste an image down) on a sheet of paper, fold the paper to conceal their contribution, and pass it on to the next player for his contribution.

Taking turns adding onto each other’s drawings and collages resulted in fantastic composite figures, such as Nude by Yves Tanguy, Joan Miró, Max Morise, and Man Ray. The resulting nude female figure combines a humorous and absurd array of features—from leaf ears to snowshoe feet. For the Surrealists, Exquisite Corpse was a perfect parlor game, involving elements of unpredictability, chance, unseen elements, and group collaboration—all in service of disrupting the waking mind’s penchant for order.”

Paul Delvaux, The Awakening of the Fores…

Paul Delvaux,

The Awakening of the Forest, 1939.

Giorgio de Chirico, The Disquieting Muse…

Giorgio de Chirico,

The Disquieting Muses, 1916-8.

Max Ernst, Bird Monument, 1927.

Max Ernst, Bird Monument, 1927.

Max Ernst, The Angel of the Home (The Triumph …

Max Ernst, The Angel of the Home (The Triumph of Surrealism), 1937.

Salvador Dalí, The Enigma of William Tell, 193…

Salvador Dalí, The Enigma of William Tell, 1933.