This macabre sounding term comes from the sentence: “Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouvea”, (the exquisite corpse will drink the new wine.) The sentence was invented during a parlor game first played in the early 1900’s by a group of surrealist artists (Andre Breton, Yves Tangay, Marcel Duchamp, Jacques Prevert, Joan Miro, Man Ray, and others). The gist of the game is that each participant contributes a portion of a work, without seeing the portions contributed by the other artists in the group. The fun is the reveal, when all see the composite effort. The game has many modern versions and can be done with words, images, or music.
I recently joined a portrait artists group who played a version of this game last week. Our model was a mannequin. Participants used pencil, charcoal, or oil pastels to draw one vertical third of her at a time, rotating our drawing position after drawing each section. Here are some of the resulting works: