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Exquisite Corpse (head): Benin Head

Exquisite Corpse (head): Benin Head

Robert Pruitt
Exquisite Corpse (head): Benin Head, 2014
8.5 x 11 inches

Ruane Center for the Humanities, Lower Level

About the Work

Exquisite corpse (translated from the original French term cadavre exquis) is a method, invented by Surrealist writers, in which a collection of words by multiple authors is collectively assembled into a single essay. Each collaborator adds to the composition in sequence, either by following a rule (e.g., “The adjective noun adverb verb the adjective noun.” as in “The green duck sweetly sang the dreadful dirge.”) or by being allowed to see only the end of what the previous person contributed. Modern artists then adopted the strategy, collaboratively creating multi-part pictures. The Exquisite Corpse artworks on view here feature heads, torsos, and legs illustrated by artists from around the world. Each artist, and each body part by extension, showcases their unique style of artmaking and relays a different social, cultural, or political perspective. Each individual artwork shows how the idea of the body and what it can symbolize varies from person to person. As a collective artwork, the interchangeable parts make up bodies that, like our own, change and evolve to tell cross-cultural narratives.