There was just one problem when I asked artists to contribute to The Beautiful Book of Exquisite Corpses, the new adult-creativity book that I edited: some of them had no idea what an Exquisite Corpse was. I soon discovered that a lot of them knew it, but had never heard the name: it was just "that game I play with my family where we fold up a piece of paper and draw a picture on sections of it, not knowing what the other people drew until we unfold the paper and see the results of our collaboration."
On the other end of the spectrum, some of the contributors got competitive about showing off their Exquisite Corpse expertise. Actor Stephen Fry had played André Breton--the French surrealist artist who concocted the Exquisite Corpse game back in 1925--in the movie Surrealismo, and so he was eager to try out one of Breton's inventions in real life. The musician Moby, however, not only knew the history of surrealism in detail, but could quote the French sentence produced by the first Exquisite Corpse word exercise that gave the game its name: "Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau," or "The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine."
As that sentence indicates, Exquisite Corpses come in many flavors, both visual and verbal. For The Beautiful Book of Exquisite Corpses, we mostly went with drawn pictures, although there's also some storytelling games. There's 110 contributors in the book, each of whom got to have their way with one perforated piece of paper: you can rip that page out of that book and jump into a long-distance collaboration with Grace Slick or Chuck Klosterman. Read the rest