The Exquisite Book: 100 Artists Play a Collaborative Game Hardcover – Aug 18 2010
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About the Author
Julia Rothman, Jenny Volvovski, and Matt Lamothe are partners in Also Design. Julia is author of the popular blog Book-By-Its-Cover.com.
Dave Eggers is a writer and editor.
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Wikipedia defines it as: Exquisite corpse (also known as exquisite cadaver or rotating corpse) is a method by which a collection of words or images is collectively assembled. Each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence, either by following a rule (e.g. "The adjective noun adverb verb the adjective noun") or by being allowed to see the end of what the previous person contributed."
This book is a very enjoyable extension of the idea using contributions from 100 artists, each using the horizon line from the previous composition in the string. They were only allowed to see the composition of the preceding piece and no others so each artist makes his own contribution and the results are very interesting. This approach makes for a delightful art book that will continue to offer a new experience every time it is picked up. I'll be returning to it again very soon.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Granted, this book is not perfect, in that the editors definitely should have sent a few pictures back with a "read the rules and try again" note because some artists acted as if they just couldn't be bothered with actually lining up their painting with the page before. Seriously, that's the point of the whole book! Luckily, on balance most DID try to work with the previous images, and in many cases the connections made between multiple images is truly fantastic. Also luckily, even the paintings that are "on their own" are usually good works too. Still, it can be annoying to see a great series of pictures kind of come to a dead end when the next artist maybe uses one tiny line to "connect" and ignores all the interesting possibilities the previous image had!
I'd love to see this project done again in the future with other artists and designers; you really could never run out of things you could do with this concept!
It's a good work to stimulate discussion and ideas which I think is sort of the point of the eponymous game of "exquisite corpse" on which this book is based. I would love to see a similar work executed by fewer artists, perhaps one, in order to see if a clearer vision can emerge. In the end, I liked this book, but just couldn't fully embrace the end result which I found to lean towards incoherence and chaos.
There are a few good visual connections from one page to the next (half of which are shown as the examples on the blog), but much more of it is a disjointed grouping of random illustrations, strung together, but hanging by a thread. Which doesn't make it a terrible book, but it doesn't live up to the expectation created. There's a section in the book where the artists answer different questions about their submissions. Many of them should've been asked why they agreed to be part of a collaboration if they had no intention of cooperating with its one basic premise.
If you're someone like me who does enjoy disjointed groupings of random illustrations, I recommend skipping this one and putting your money toward a Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts, or one of the other juried annuals that present a better selection of contemporary illustration. A few of these might turn up there.