Strange world of the Quay Brothers

If you’re in New York anytime through Jan 7 check out the MOMA exhibition Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets.  The exhibit features sets from the brothers’ stop-action animated films, along with posters, book art, and other works on paper.  It’s in the film work, though, that they really distinguish themselves and to see the sets must be a real treat.  The New York Times describes them this way:

But the exhibition itself leaves no doubt that the Quays are masters above all of an unusually entrancing form of stop-action animation they unveiled in 1979. Fraught with unresolved dreamlike narratives and psychosexual tensions, these works draw on the Surreal, the Gothic and the Victorian and also reflect the Quays’ deep attachment to the literature, graphic arts, animation and music of Eastern Europe, which they have cultivated since their art-school days.

The best of the animations make riveting use of puppets, dolls, stuffed animals and related creatures (maniacal feathered demons are a specialty), which enact their largely wordless encounters on the stages of the Décors. These bulky, boxlike tableaus expand upon the collage aesthetic of Joseph Cornell and the Czech artist Jiri Kolar, marshaling an amazing range of natural and artificial materials and found objects, and are sculptures in their own right.


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