The Exquisite Corpse was an artistic idea used by the Surrealists. Possibly dating to World War I, it took hold in the mid 1920s. Usually more than one person participated.
Participants wrote or drew on a sheet of paper that was folded to conceal the previous contribution and then passed the paper along to the next person. The show at the Museum of Modern Art, on view through July 9, is especially concerned with how the Surrealists used the idea of the Exquisite Corpse to create “fantastic composite figures.”
The American artist, Fred Becker (1913-2004), made a woodcut entitled the Exquisite Corpse in 1960. Entirely his own piece, the image includes “creases” that suggest where a sheet of paper might have been folded.
The always witty Becker created a giant outlandish creature. There is a proof printed in black and blue ink on brown paper and a final version printed in black, green, and red, on white paper, shown here.