Exquisite Corpses

Exquisite Corpse-Valentine Hugo, Andre Breton, Tristan Tzara, Greta Knudsen-1933
Exquisite Corpse-Valentine Hugo, Andre Breton, Tristan Tzara, Greta Knudsen-1933

“The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine.”

This was the phrase that was produced when the Surrealists first sat down to play the game that was to later be christened Exquisite Corpse. It was one of those happy accidents so beloved of the Surrealists and seemingly dictated by the collective unconscious mind ready to reclaim its rights.

The most celebrated of Surrealists techniques,  it tied in nicely with several key tenets of Surrealism; namely artistic collaboration and the belief that was first stated by Lautreamont that “Poetry should be made by all.” Originally played with words it soon become apparent that the technique could extend to drawing and collages. The examples from the Golden Age of Surrealism are numerous and feature some of the most illustrious names in 20th Century art and letters.

Below are some of the most notable Exquisite Corpses from that era. I have also included work from the YBA artists the Chapman Brothers who have produced a number of drawings using the technique.

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36 thoughts on “Exquisite Corpses

      1. Not only compliment but comments too..you are free to comment if you feel there is something to improve…it will help me to improve my blog & personality ..i am looking forward for your views😊

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    1. Thank you …I like exquisite corpses though obviously the quality varies greatly. Like all spontaneous art it can’t be too thought out because it appears contrived but because the labour isn’t there it is dismissed as throwaway. Thanks as always C.M and glad you liked it

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    1. Thanks I am glad you are enjoying..I am trying to broaden the scope without losing the focus. Hopefully it’s working and besides the images make up for any deficiencies in the writing


    1. Not really the second artist is usually unaware of what the first artist has done apart from some lines at the top of their section and the third is the same etc. It is a fun parlour game. The YBA one of the Alice girl is entirely more self conscious. The results vary greater it must be admitted, I did the post to show some Surrealist techniques. Is there an award for the best Surrealist/erotic/symbolist/mystic/art/movie/literature/short short/poetry blog award? Surely I would be in with a shout if only because I would be the only contestant

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      1. Ah, I see. This sounds like it could be a lot of fun. Ever try it? With words? Write a section of poetry or a paragraph of a story? I actually used to participate in a poetry prompt that went that way. We were all given a number and a single word for a theme. Some of the poems turned outer rather well and surprisingly cohesive.

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  1. This is delightful. The idea that poetry should be made by all is genius and would be fun just for the heck of it or as a party game. One would need some creative friends to join in or if not, just for the fun of it. I love this array of exquisite corpses they are all amazing but what could one expect from this assembly of brilliant surrealists.

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      1. They took games very seriously. The last part of the great work in alchemy was called child’s play. It is refreshing, especially as their progressive politics lends itself to a certain unsmiling dourness.

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