Unpredictable and Unforgettable: The Allure of Exquisite Corpse Art and How to Create Your Own
If you are a fan of surrealist art, you have probably heard of the Exquisite Corpse technique. This collaborative technique was invented by the Surrealists in the early 20th century as a way to create unexpected and bizarre artworks. In this article, we will explore the history of the Exquisite Corpse technique, how it was used by surrealist artists, and the step-by-step approach for you to play Exquisite Corpse with friends. We will also take a closer look at some of the most intriguing and famous works of Exquisite Corpse art.
History of Exquisite Corpse
- Invented in 1925 at Andre Breton's residence in Montparnasse, Paris. Along with artists like Marcel Duchamp, Jacques Prévert, Yves Tanguy, and Benjamin Péret.
- Similar to the old parlor game called "consequences," in which players write or draw in turn on a sheet of paper, fold it to conceal part of the writing or drawing, and then pass it to the next player for a further contribution.
- Breton wrote that the game was a way to bypass the conscious mind and tap into the unconscious creative process.
- The surrealists made many exquisite corpse drawings and used the technique in their artwork and writings throughout the 1920s and 30s.
Cadavre Exquis, also known as "Exquisite Corpse", is a drawing game invented by the French surrealist artist André Breton and his friends in 1925. The name comes from the phrase "Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau" ("The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine"), which was the first sentence created when they played the game.
The game involves multiple artists collaborating to create a composite drawing or sentence without seeing each other's contributions. Each person takes turns adding to the composition by following a rule or only being allowed to see the end of what the previous person contributed. This results in strange and unexpected juxtapositions as the drawing or text is assembled organically.
The surrealists were a group of artists and writers who were interested in exploring the subconscious and the irrational. They believed that by tapping into these areas, they could create new forms of art that were free from the constraints of traditional techniques and styles. The Exquisite Corpse technique was a way for the Surrealists to collaborate and create unexpected and bizarre artworks.
How Exquisite Corpse was Used by Surrealist Artists
The Surrealists used the Exquisite Corpse technique in a variety of ways. Some used it as a way to create drawings or paintings, while others used it to create poems or stories. The technique was often used as a game, with the Surrealists taking turns to contribute to the artwork or story. The resulting works were often strange and absurd, reflecting the Surrealists' interest in the irrational and the subconscious.
One of the most famous Exquisite Corpse artworks was created by André Breton, the leader of the Surrealist movement. In 1938, Breton organized a game of Exquisite Corpse in which the participants were required to create a drawing of a woman. The resulting artwork, known as "Cadavre Exquis," was a series of four drawings that showed different parts of the woman's body. Each drawing was done by a different artist, and the final result was a surreal and erotic depiction of a woman.
How to Play Exquisite Corpse with Friends
Playing Exquisite Corpse with friends is easy and fun. Here is a step-by-step approach:
- Gather a group of friends who are interested in playing Exquisite Corpse.
- Decide on the medium you will use (e.g. drawing, painting, writing).
- Decide on the theme or subject of the artwork or story.
- Decide on the order in which each person will contribute.
- Each person starts by contributing a part of the artwork or story, without seeing the contributions of the others.
- Pass the artwork or story to the next person in the order.
- Each person adds to the artwork or story based only on the part contributed by the previous person.
- Repeat steps 6 and 7 until the artwork or story is complete.
It is important to note that Exquisite Corpse is a collaborative technique, so it's important to keep an open mind and be willing to let go of control over the final result. The goal is to create something unexpected and unpredictable, so don't be afraid to take risks and be creative.
Famous Works of Exquisite Corpse Art
There are many famous works of Exquisite Corpse art, created by both Modern Surrealist and Contemporary artists. These 3 examples from Modern masters may not all follow the traditional Exquisite Corpse format, but they serve to demonstrate how impactful the game has been in the minds of Modern artists.
Here are some intriguing examples of Exquisite Corpse art:
"Cadavre Exquis" by André Breton
As mentioned earlier, "Cadavre Exquis" is one of the most famous Exquisite Corpse artworks. It was created in 1938 by André Breton and by André Breton, Nusch Eluard, Valentine Hugo, and Paul Eluard — known from an inscription on the reverse of the sheet, in André Breton's hand. The artwork is a series of four drawings that depict different parts of a woman's body. Each drawing was done by a different artist, without seeing the contributions of the others. Part of the Tate collection, it's made using graphite on paper.
"The Exquisite Corpse Shall Drink the New Wine" by Man Ray
This Exquisite Corpse artwork was created by the American artist Man Ray in 1927. It is a series of four photographs that show a distorted human face. The photographs were created by folding and manipulating a single sheet of photographic paper, without the use of a camera.
"Exquisite Corpse" by Max Ernst
This Exquisite Corpse artwork was created by Max Ernst in 1926. It is a painting that shows a surreal landscape with strange creatures and objects. The painting was created by collaging different images together, without any regard for traditional perspective or composition.
Exquisite Corpse on YouTube
The Exquisite Corpse technique is a fascinating and unique approach to creating art. It allows artists and writers to collaborate and create unexpected and unpredictable works that reflect the Surrealist interest in the irrational and the subconscious. By following the step-by-step approach outlined in this article, you can play Exquisite Corpse with your friends and create your own surreal and bizarre works of art.