Game Time!

By Jessica Clark

For the Surrealists, everything came down to imagination. To harness the power and potential of their minds, and spark creativity, the pioneers of the movement devised artistic, literary and poetic games to spur their imagination and unlock the power and potential they believed lay dormant in the subconscious mind.

The key figures of the movementAndre Breton, Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Joan Miro, Rene Magritteall used these games as a starting point for new works of art.

The games they invented are still used today by artists and writers; to spark ideas for new projects, as a creative therapy, and even at parties!
Will you dare unlock the unknown?


Exquisite Corpse

Invented by Andre Breton in the 1920s, this is probably the most well-known of the Surrealist games. Best played with three, the Surrealists used this game to come up with new ideas, creatures and juxtapositions.


You will need:

  • 3 players
  • A3 paper
  • Pencils or pens


How to play:

  1. Fold the paper into 3 even sections.
  2. Player 1 draws a design in the first section, extending their drawing slightly over the next fold.
  3. Player 1 then folds their drawing under so it is concealed and then passes it to player 2.
  4. The process is repeated until all players have contributed.
  5. Open up the paper to reveal your Exquisite Corpse! Colour and add detail as you like.

Wherever the brush takes you

Many of the Surrealists used automatic writing, painting and drawing to begin their compositions. Artists like Miro and Dali used this game to free the mind by tapping into the area between the conscious and the unconscious.


You will need:

  • You
  • Butchers paper
  • Pencils or pens
  • A blindfold

How to play:

  1. Lay a large sheet of paper over a table, set up your pencils, sit down and put on your blindfold.
  2. Begin to draw anywhere on the papertry not to thinkrelax and let it the creativity happen. (If you feel stuck, try a continuous line drawing and let the spontaneity flow).
  3. Stop when you think you’ve finished and remove your blindfold.
  4. Turn the paper around, look at the shapes, lines and patterns you have created. Can you see anything?
  5. Add to your drawing by connecting lines and creating shapes.
  6. You have created an artwork of your inner mind!


Note: This game can also be reinterpreted using paint or text.  



This was a game used by artists like Oscar Dominguez and Max Ernst to create paintings of chance. They painted and printed tactile surfaces onto their canvas or paper to create abstract patterns that revealed, to them, the hidden language of the mind.


You will need:

  • Paint (2-3 colours)
  • Cartridge paper
  • A plastic sleeve
  • Pens and pencils

How to play:

  1. Squeeze colour swatches of paint directly onto the surface of the plastic sleevein lines, dots, any way you like.
  2. Place the plastic (paint side down) onto the paper.
  3. Use your fingers to spread and blend colours.
  4. Peel the plastic away, set both aside to dry.
  5. As it dries, hidden imagery and patterns will appear. Use pens and pencils to detail your new-found imagery.


Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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