Fans of the Brothers Quay – phantasmagorical film animators – should head to the Museum of Modern Art before Monday, January 7th to catch On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets, an immaculate gallery and cinema retrospective featuring their art and film. Nightmarish, visionary, unearthly: only crude qualifiers for their painstaking art that infamously evades categorization. The Philadelphia-born, London-based twin brothers have flown under the mainstream radar for decades, but are gods and influencers of the dark cinema underground: if you’ve seen Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas or a Tool video, you have the Quay Brothers to thank for significantly originating that jerky, shadowy aesthetic.
As seen in classic Quay films like Street of Crocodiles (above), they use puppets to masterful and terrifying effect, evolving and mutating the techniques and traditions of Eastern European filmmakers and animators like Jan Švankmajer and Walerian Borowczyk. The miniature work that goes into making the elegantly macabre – and shocking imaginative – sets are works of art in their own right and are treated as such at MoMA’s current retrospective. Highly recommended!