Exquisite Corpse was originally a parlor game based on words. To play, each participant wrote a word or phrase on a piece of paper then folded it so that the next player could not see the previous contributions. This resulted in nonsensical phrases like “Le cadaver exquis boira le vin nouveau” (“The exquisite corpse will drink the new wine”), one enigmatic phrase after which the game was named.


Surrealist artists played a collaborative, chance-based parlor game, typically involving four players, called Cadavre Exquis (Exquisite Corpse). Each participant would draw an image (or, on some occasions, paste an image down) on a sheet of paper, fold the paper to conceal their contribution, and pass it on to the next player for his contribution. Taking turns adding onto each other’s drawings and collages resulted in fantastic composite figures. For the Surrealists, Exquisite Corpse was a perfect parlor game, involving elements of unpredictability, chance, unseen elements, and group collaboration—all in service of disrupting the waking mind’s penchant for order.


* Text from MoMA's description of "Nude" Cadavre Exquis by Yves Tanguy, Joan Miró, Max Morise, and Man Ray