Surrealist Game: The Exquisite Corpse

By: Alison Caplan, Director of Education

Exquisite Corpse in action

The Surrealists didn’t have Apples to Apples or Pictionary in their day, but they did participate in parlor games that helped get their creative juices flowing.

In the 1920’s, surrealist artists played a game based on chance and accident called Exquisite Corpse. The goal of the game was to make a kind of collaborative collage using words or drawings. The name Exquisite Corpse is the result of an early game, where the finished sentence read “The exquisite corpse will drink the young wine.”

In the days leading up to the Real/Surreal opening, museum staffers decided to take a surreal lunch break and attempt some Exquisite Corpse drawings of our own. The game goes like this: one artist starts a drawing, then folds the paper to hide most of the image. The next artist continues the drawing based on the small part she can see. The drawing is passed along to other players until the fantastical, wacky, surprising image is complete.

What do you think of the results? We should probably keep our day jobs right?

Now  try your hand at an Exquisite Corpse drawing! Need inspiration? Check out the Real/Surreal exhibition and create your own collaborative drawing with museum visitors at the show.

One of the finished drawinsg.
One of the finished drawings.