The assumption is that the collective unconscious of the group will produce a sentence that, however technically unintelligible, makes profound emotional sense. One sentence thus produced was "The exquisite corpse will drink the young wine" -- whence the label "exquisite corpse." . . . The sentence is absurd, but its details are evocative, separately and in combination. The importance of the exquisite corpse is that it is a collaborative work of art, and as such undermines the traditional idea of the independent author. More subtly, it suggests that each of its authors has something unconscious in common.
The [visual exquisite corpse] readily creates associations. In the end, one finds oneself looking at something familiar, however distorted, as though in a dream . . . an adventure into unknown visual territory, where it found what it knew to be emotionally true, however strange. Thus what was unexpected has become expected, even foreordained."
from A Critical History of Twentieth Century Art, Donald Kuspit