While walking through the Surrealist galleries here at MoMA, or while gazing at a Surrealist composition, do you ever stop to wonder how these artists were able to tap into their subconscious mind and produce such unusual and compelling combinations of images?
One of the methods that Surrealist artists used to exercise their subconscious and liberate their minds was a chance-based, collaborative game known as “Exquisite Corpse.” In this game, players pass around a folded piece of paper, each drawing one section of a figure or writing one part of a sentence. The key element of this game is that the sections that came before are always folded back, so each player contributes his or her portion of the composition in isolation. When the paper is unfolded at the end, a composite figure or sentence unveils itself, often with surprising or outlandish results.
A few times over the past weeks, MoMA museum educators Marianne Eggler, Deborah A. Goldberg, and Jane Becker headed into the Surrealist section of our Painting and Sculpture galleries in order to invite visitors to participate in this very game. Those who took part had an opportunity to slow down and explore the processes that fueled many of the masterpieces on view in those galleries. The photos above show both the visitors’ in action making and diplaying their own Exquisite Corpses and an example of one composition that is part of MoMA’s collection, which Yves Tanguy, Joan Miró, Max Morise, and Man Ray made collaboratively and entitled Nude (1926-27).
Next time you visit MoMA, keep your eyes out for our educators; you never know what activity or insights they will be offering in the galleries!
-Alison Burstein, 12-Month Intern, Adult & Academic Programs