Cadavre Exquis with Esteban Francés, Remedios Varo, Oscar Domínguez, Marcel Jean. Untitled. 1935

Cadavre Exquis with Esteban Francés, Remedios Varo, Oscar Domínguez, Marcel Jean. Untitled. 1935

How do you bypass your thinking mind to make art?

Surrealists played the game Exquisite Corpse to stimulate creativity through collaboration. Players would contribute to a drawing of a figure without seeing what the others had done. Like a game of Telephone, the figure would become stranger with each player’s addition. The name Exquisite Corpse came from a version in which each contributor added a word without knowing the ones that came before, resulting in the bizarre phrase, “The exquisite corpse will drink the new wine.”

If you’re looking for creative inspiration, feel intimidated by the blank page, or are simply seeking a fun game to play with others, try making your own Exquisite Corpse by following these instructions or watching the Spanish-language video below:

  • Take a piece of paper and fold it into four equal parts.
  • Draw or collage on the top section of the paper to create the head of an imaginary character. Use whatever materials you have around you.
  • Fold your image back to conceal it. Extend the lines of your character’s neck over the edge of the fold so that your collaborator will know how to connect their image to yours.
  • Pass the paper on to a friend or family member. Keep your image hidden and have them add a body to your figure in the middle section of the page.
  • Repeat! Pass the paper to a third person, concealing the first two sections of the page, and have them add the legs. Then hide that section and pass to a fourth person to add the feet. Remember to draw lines over the fold into each new section so the following person knows where to start.
  • Unfold the page and reveal your collaborative image.

Surrealist artists played this game to get unpredictable results far stranger than an individual could make on their own. How did it feel for you? Were you surprised by the final image?

Many artists since the Surrealists have played with altering and distorting the human body. Get inspired by artists such as Wangechi Mutu, Cecilia Vicuña, and Louise Bourgeois for your Exquisite Corpse experiments.

Aprende con Leticia Gutiérrez a hacer un cadáver exquisito a través de enviarlo a amigos por correo postal: