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The Art of the Exquisite Corpse: Collaborative Works on Paper

Exquisite Corpse: game of folded paper which consists in having several people compose a phrase or drawing collectively, none of the participants having any idea of the nature of the preceding contributions.

The 1938 Dictionnaire abrégé du surréalisme gave the above definition for the Surrealist game called le cadavre exquise, or the Exquisite Corpse, which made its first public appearance in a 1927 exhibition at La Galerie surréaliste in Paris. The collaborative drawing and/or word game was beloved by the Surrealists who practiced a technique called ‘automatic drawing’, the unconscious flow of words or images without reflection,  assembled by chance into what emerges as an irrational, dream-like, often grotesque image. This assualt on logic, conventional ideas about beauty and rationality was central to the Surrealists’ philosophy. the Exquisite Corpse provided them with a collaborative way to express the maifeste du surréalism as defined by André Breton in 1924: ‘Pure psychic automatism by whose means it is intended to express verbally, or in writing, or in any other manner, the actual functioning of thought.’

In 1991, The Drawing Center in New York invited artists from all over the world, working in all conceptual orientations and at varying points in their careers, to play the Exquisite Corpse game for an exhibition titled The Return of the Cadavre Exquis. Our March 3 sale The Exquisite Corpse: Collaborative Works on Paper offers sixty-one mixed media works on paper from the exhibition made between 1992 and 1993. Following the tenets of the original game, a single sheet of paper was divided into segments that roughly correspond to the human body. Participating artists were given the choice of selecting their own partners, or leaving it up to chance. The products of these collaborations are sometimes humorous, ugly or beautiful, and are as diverse as the artists who created them.

BIDDING IN THIS SALE

We accept phone bids, absentee bids and live online bidding for this sale. To register for bidding by phone or absentee click here. Register for live online bidding via Bidsquare.comInvaluable.com or LiveAuctioneers.com. For inquiries regarding the items in this sale please contact us at 518.751.1000 or internetrequests@stairgalleries.com.

Time & Location

Wednesday, March 3 at 11am ONLINE

Catalogue Online

Friday, February 19 

Gallery Preview 

10am – 5pm

Please call 518.751.1000 
to schedule an appointment

Monday, February 22
Tuesday, February 23
Wednesday, February 24
Thursday, February 25
Friday, February 26
Saturday, February 27 (11am – 5pm)
*CLOSED- Sunday, February 28*
Monday, March 1
Tuesday, March 2

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