The Exquisite Corpse

Cadavre Exquis

Cadavre Exquis

“The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine.”

Some of you may be thinking, “What in the world is this woman talking about?” Sounds strange, doesn’t it? Apparently I don’t get around much because the exquisite corpse is something that has been around since possibly before the 1920’s.

How did I not hear about it? I don’t know. But luckily the student teacher I mentored this semester taught me how to use it in my art classes.

“The exquisite corpse” is a fun activity to help you come up with fresh ideas. Surrealists used the game to create some crazy art work. There are many websites dedicated to playing the game in some manner. The exquisite corpse can be played with words, images, and even video.

My student teacher gave my Art II students a brief introduction to ” the exquisite corpse” with a power point presentation. The presentation showed some art work that was created or influenced by the exquisite corpse.

If you want to read more about the exquisite corpse go to the sites below:

Wikipedia Article

For Poets

The students were shown one site that is really quite fun and can be addicting if you are not careful. It is If you go to this site you can see images in the gallery of art work that has already been created. It takes three artists to create one piece of work and you are not allowed to see the other artists work until it is finished. If you have time, check it out!

crazy ladySo what did my students create? They created drawings of some crazy looking creatures. This is an easy activity. All you need: pencil and paper. If you want to create colored drawings, then the students could use colored pencil or markers. 

The students were given a piece of paper, 12″ x 18″. The paper was folded into thirds. Each student drew a head in the top third of the paper. I had to remind them to cover their work up when they were done. They also had to make sure at least two lines came down into the middle third of the paper so the next artist could see where to start their drawing. They traded papers.

more creationsThe next artist drew the torso and arms making sure to make two lines into the bottom third for the third artist to attach to. I taped each section of the paper closed so that people would not be tempted to peek. Then the papers were traded.

The third artist was told to create the bottom portion of the creature. It could be feet or whatever their imaginations came up with. At the end of the class, the students were very anxious to see the artwork that was created. I had different students come to the front of the class and reveal the work. Then the creations were displayed on the bulletin board for all to enjoy.

Exquisite Corpse


 In introduction to this activity, my students played a word game. I wrote three words and then covered up the first two. The next person wrote three words after seeing my last word. They covered all the words except their last one. We continued adding words until everyone had been given a chance to contribute.  Some of the things we came up with were:

Blue Polar bears jump rope fast and furiously.

Foxes fainted in the heat .

Burning red leaves falling into my pockets .

Hot, buttered, yummy cookies make you fat.

Little fingers tickle pink kittens.

Slim, tall little pigs bite sweet delicious candy.

Do you get a visual from reading those? I do. Now all the words we put together did not make sense. Another way to play with words is to have a system. The way most people do this is to combine words from many people in a certain order. The order is:

The adjective noun adverb verb the adjective noun.

That is how the saying at the top of this article came to be. The originators of the game came up with that saying as they played the game.

So if you are having trouble coming up with some fresh creative ideas you might want to give “the exquisite corpse” a try. Have fun!

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