Valentine Hugo, Cadavre Exquis, c.1931

Valentine Hugo (French 1890-1968), Tristan Tzara (Romanian 1896-1963), Yves Tanguy (French 1900-1955), Paul Éluard (French 1895-1952), Nusch Éluard (French 1906-1946) Cadavre Exquis c.1931 crayon on black paper 31.5 x 24.1 cm Purchased as a gift of the Trier-Fodor Foundation with the assistance of a Movable Cultural Property grant accorded by the Department of Canadian Heritage under the terms of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, 2012 © Estate of Valentine Hugo / SODRAC (2013) © Estate of Yves Tanguy / SODRAC (2013)

An “Exquisite Corpse”: Poetry and Chance in Surrealist Drawings

October 26, 2013 – April 13, 2014


The focus of this installation is a rare cadavre exquis (exquisite corpse) drawing, a remarkable new AGO acquisition made collaboratively by several major Surrealist artists. The creation of cadavre exquis drawings began in the 1920s as a parlour game. One artist made marks on a piece of paper, covered that section, and then passed the paper to the next person. As the paper travelled around the room, multiple artists made additions. The Surrealists were astounded by the powerful results of this activity, which reinforced their belief in “automatism,” the idea that works of art could be produced as expressions of the subconscious, the irrational and dreams. Many artists incorporated automatist approaches into their artistic practices.

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