I finally made it to a session of “Drawing in the Galleries” at my local art museum. It’s a great free program hosted by an artist and museum employee, Kelly. She starts off the evening with a warmup activity and then some timed sketching exercises based around a theme. Our warmup activity was The Exquisite Corpse. The Exquisite Corpse was a parlour game played by the Surrealists in the early 1900s. It could be done with words or with images.
One of the ones I worked on
A piece of paper was folded in thirds. The first person would write the beginning of a sentence (usually defined as an adjective and a noun) or draw the head of a creature (if doing the visual version like we did tonight). Without looking at what the first person did, the second person would write the verb or draw the torso section of the creature and without looking at what either of the two previous people did, the third person would conclude the sentence with another adjective and noun or the picture with the feet and legs of the creature. It was meant to stretch their imaginations and It kind of reminds me of those children’s books where they have human or animal figures in books with each page divided into thirds so that the child could “mix and match” the body parts into new figures. We created about 15 of these Exquisite Corpse pictures in total and it was fascinating to see how they all turned out.
By the way, the name for the game comes from a phrase that was created the first time it was played – “Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau.” (The exquisite corpse will drink the new wine.) There is apparently an airmail version of the game in which it is mailed from person to person to add to it and I’ve heard that there’s an iPhone app for it as well.