Benjamin Cottam, ‘Exquisite Corpse 58’, ca. 2011, Mana Contemporary


More than 180 internationally recognized visual artists, architects, designers and photographers participated in the Armitage Gone! Dance Exquisite Corpse Project, beginning in 2011. The artists created one hundred and thirty nine artworks to benefit Armitage Gone! Dance, an internationally acclaimed contemporary dance company under the direction of renowned choreographer Karole Armitage. Using the 1920's surrealist parlor game "cadavre exquise," a drawing that combines words and/or images by multiple artists on one sheet of paper, the project celebrates the theme of chance encounters, surprise and radical juxtaposition. Each artist adds to the composition, in sequence, without seeing the contribution of the previous person. The chance juxtaposition of images and styles results in a work that is both unexpected and amusing. Each drawing is a combination of the work of three or four artists.

The Exquisite Corpse project is a way for a wide range of artists to express their support for Armitage’s work and also a way for her to acknowledge artists who have played such a large role in her career. The project also highlights the “performative” aspect of art-making by demonstrating that drawing, performance art, and dance all have in common spontaneity and an unpredictable nature. The evanescent quality of dance is mirrored in the surprising juxtapositions of the Exquisite Corpse.

Series: The Armitage Gone Dance Exquisite Corpse Project

Image rights: (Top-Bottom) Benjamin Cottam - Gouache, Silver Stick, Pencil; Steve Gianakos - Pencil, Colored Pencil; Sean Scully - Pencil, Crayon

About Benjamin Cottam

Fair History on Artsy

Klemens Gasser and Tanja Grunert at Dallas Art Fair 2014

About Steve Gianakos

Since the late 1960s, Steve Gianakos has been merging innocence and prurience, vulgarity and sophistication in his drawings, collages, and acrylic-on-canvas paintings to reveal the absurd mixture of sexuality and anxiety at the heart of the human condition. His works look like vintage cartoons gone awry: he has depicted pigeon-toed little girls with their skirts up; animals in menacing or lascivious scenarios with people; pin-ups pleasuring bird-brained men; and Jesus getting smacked in the face with a pie. Through humor, Gianakos disarms the viewer into submitting to his deliciously dark and subversive vision of the human psyche. His pared-down imagery, composed of outlines and blocks of color, is deceptively simple. All of his works are shot through with witty references to Pop Art, Surrealism, and abstraction, refined into visions of culture and society fueled by our desires and weaknesses.

American, b. 1938, New York, New York

About Sean Scully

Demonstrating an unwavering commitment to abstraction, Sean Scully’s paintings and works on paper combine an underlying geometric structure with soft edges and uneven application of pigment. Scully’s compositions often employ stripes, grids, and dark, earthy tones, as seen in early watercolors where Scully allowed the paint to puddle and overlap with a larger stripe motif. This integration of structured composition with the idiosyncrasies of the chosen medium is typical of Scully’s work; the artist has described this duality as a “battle between system and emotion.”

Irish, b. 1945, Dublin, Ireland