Cleveland Print Room Harks Back to 20th-Century Surrealist Fun with 'Exquisite Corpses'

click to enlarge Cleveland Print Room Harks Back to 20th-Century Surrealist Fun with 'Exquisite Corpses'
Mauricio Cortez, John Carlson, Jeff Curtis, Shari Wilkins
"Exquisite Corpse" is a term for a collaborative art game created by the Surrealists of the early 20th century. A paper is folded into thirds and three artists take turns drawing on one section, after each section is completed, it is covered almost completely. The next artist can only see a few lines from the upper image. They use these hints to guide their creative response. The final result is revealed upon completion to the surprise of everyone involved.

The Cleveland Print Room’s fundraiser is named after and inspired by this old Surrealist game. The concept was introduced to CPR director Shari Wilkins by former Cleveland- and now L.A.-based artist Greg Stimac during a recent visit. "He showed me the Surrealist parlor game and I was hooked," explains Wilkins.

She continues: “[The game's] roots are in an old-fashioned parlor game called Consequences. In this game, players write a word or phrase, fold the paper to conceal their writing and then pass it to another player. Each person adds a phrase without knowing what previous players wrote. The end result is often amusing and wild. The story goes that when a group of friends, who were Surrealists, played the game, it resulted in the sentence: ‘The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine.’ The game eventually transferred to art.”

From 6 to 9 p.m. this Saturday, July 18, artists will be drawing Exquisite Corpses live in the Cleveland Print Room. All works created during the event will be sold for $75; and approximately 20 larger, mural size drawings will be available in a silent auction starting at $100. More than 40 local, national and international artists are involved in the event. Proceeds will help fund CPR’s programming schedule of classes and workshops.

"It is like improv for artists,” explains Wilkins. “It is a way for artists to work off each other. The fun part is that we do not know what the other artists' creations look like until each piece is complete. The result is over 20 mural-sized pieces that captivate in their surrealism. Artists drew from a variety of mediums, including ink, pencil, watercolor and collage. Almost all of the mural drawings were done on 24 in. by 36 in. paper. The work is really incredible because it’s so diverse.”

The event will also feature a special section for children and families to sit, create and display their own Exquisite Corpse drawings. DJ Sputnik will be providing the soundtrack for the evening.

Admission is $5 (children 12 and under are free). Works will remain on view through Monday, July 20. Stop by Saturday to help support the Cleveland Print Room. All proceeds support the future growth and programming of the organization.

(Cleveland Print Room) 2550 Superior Ave., 216-401-5981,
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