In the late 1920’s a group of surrealist artist led by Salvador Dali, invented a form of art known as the “exquisite corpse”. This was a game like collaboration process where a group of individuals would create a composition by writing two to three lines of text, and passing it to the next individual. The only rule was each subsequent participant could only see the last line of what was written before them.
Following in the tradition of the exquisite corpse, Brooklyn-based designers Julia Rothman, Jenny Volvovski and Matt Lamothe have reproduced the process, in the form of an illustration project that brought together 100 of today’s most talented illustrators and designers to co-create an illustrated book based on each other’s work. The book entitled “The Exquisite Book: 100 Artists Play a Collaborative Game”, is an absolutely wonderful work that has taken almost two years to complete.
The process that was set up by Rothman, Volvovski, and Lamothe is really very simple. Each artist contributed one page to the book. The first five were given a few starter words to inspire their drawing, then each of the following artists only saw the page that immediately preceded theirs and used images to build on the story. Along with this conceptual continuity, there was a visual reference that was carried through the entire volume. A horizontal line that starts at the left edge of the first page and ends on the right at the end drew all of the images togetheracross the book. Like the rules of the exquisite corpse suggest, each artist was allowed to interpret the line ever any way they liked, which most did with incredible ingenuity. The book unfolds accordion style which allows the reader to open it and reveal the interconnected line and all the artwork.
The project is an instant piece of creative culture history, from the illustrated introduction by McSweeney’s Dave Eggers of 826 Valencia and Where The Wild Things Are fame, to the meticulous making of its cover, to the all-star roster of contributing artists.
The Exquisite Book: 100 Artists Play a Collaborative Game is available at Amazon for 20 bucks.