Local Artist to Display Exquisite Corpses in Special Exhibition



Like a candy corn toothache, the Halloween spirit lingers into the week with tonight’s unveiling of the annual “Exquisite Corpse” exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg. Following the opening, the 22 corpses will be transported immediately to Sarasota, where they will be on display at the Rosemary District studio of Grace Howl, who contributed to this year’s show.

A surrealist game dating perhaps as far back as 1918, Exquisite Corpse is an exercise in joint creativity, with three artists working together, but in isolation, to create each “corpse.” With the body divided into three sections—head, torso, legs—each artist is assigned a portion of one corpse and then given near carte blanche to create it in their medium. Painters are grouped with other painters and sculptors are grouped with sculptors and so on, but none can be in communication with the other while they work. In terms of guidance, each artist is given only a few measurements to ensure their work will align with the other artists’ in the group. For example, a painter working on a head will have two marks at the bottom of the canvas marking where the neck must meet the torso created by the other artist.

After all the work has been submitted, the organizers put the corpses together, according to the predetermined groups, and the exhibition hits the road. This year, corpses comprise a variety of media, from sculpture to painting and even photography and poetry.

A grand tradition in the surrealist art world, great names like Frida Kahlo and Max Ernst count among former players. This year, 66 artists participated, resulting in 22 corpses, and local artist Grace Howl was one such invited artist. She’s not allowed to share her contribution yet, but does reveal that what she saw last year was “pretty astounding.” Amy Ernst, granddaughter of Max Ernst, also participated and will be flying into Sarasota for the opening on Saturday.

“When you get a group of artists together, it really allows the freedom to create and just have fun,” says Howl. “And that’s the key—to come away with a fresh perspective and realize that the imagination is limitless.”

“Exquisite Corpse” comes to the Grace Howl Contemporary Art Gallery this Saturday, with an opening reception at 5:30pm. The exhibit will then be on display for nearly two weeks, before continuing on its journey.

Pictured: The 2017 Exquisite Corpse exhibition at the Dale Chihuly Glass Museum. Photo courtesy of Exquisite Corpse Games.

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