The Quay Brothers Bring Creep to the Museum of Modern Art in NYC

The Quay Brothers stop-motion animation at MoMA NYC

Need another good reason to go to Museum of Modern Art in Midtown NYC this fall? Look deep into the dark and disturbing heart of the Quay Brothers, whose work as avant garde stop-action animators, collagists and puppeteers has been given a fantastic–and fantastically creepy–career-spanning retrospective on the Museum of Modern Art's second floor, first floor, and in the lobbies of MoMA's movie theaters in the basement. It's big and busy; it's spooky, slightly insane, and altogether pretty brilliant; it's sort of what that hugely-popular, Planet Hollywood-esque Tim Burton show of a few years ago wished it could have been. In other words: the Quay Brothers at MoMA is the REAL stuff. 

The Quay Brothers puppets and sets at the Museum of Modern Art

Timothy & Stephen Quay Bring Eerie from Atelier Koninck to MoMA

The Quay Brothers are identical twins Timothy and Stephen, who grew up in a small town outside of Philadelphia and wound up in London in the late 1970s where they've been working out of their studio, Atelier Koninck, for the past 30-plus years. The Quay Brothers MoMA retrospective has three basic components, each which we found totally engaging. First, there's the Quays' early works–illustrations, small paintings, collages–which are remarkable both just in terms of sheer creativity and talent as well as being so obviously THEIRS; although the Quay Brothers' art certainly evolved over the decades, the major themes and aesthetic sensibility have been there since the start. Also in this section of the Quay Brothers MoMA exhibition is a fascinating look at some of their influences, including the great Polish poster art of the 1950s and '60s. 

Sets by the Quay Brothers at MoMA in NYC

Short Films by the Quay Brothers Return at MoMA Exhibit

A second major part of the Quay Brothers at MoMA show are the short films themselves, several of which are shown in their entirety, in mini-theaters within the exhibition's second floor galleries as well as downstairs on the wall of the theater lobby. You've probably seen some Quay Brothers animation before, maybe without knowing it–especially if you watched any late-night MTV in the 1980s–but their lovingly, painstakingly produced stop-motion puppets somehow also seems very contemporary, and of the DIY-moment. We loved (re)watching all of these. Finally, and what really makes this exhibition a so-far-uncrowded crowd-pleaser, are the Quay Brothers wonderfully raw and intricate sets, more than a dozen of which of are on display throughout, each looking like some or twisted nightmare dollhouse. Fun for the whole family. 

Timothy Quay & Stephen Quay at Atelier Koninck

The Quay Brothers at MoMA Exhibit Details

The Quay Brothers retrospective will be on display at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC from now through January 7, 2013. The MoMA is located on 53rd Street between Sixth and Fifth Avenues, and is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and on Friday until 8:00 p.m., when admission is free after 4:00 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. SPECIAL SUMMER HOURS: between now and September 25, the MoMA is open seven days a week, and until 8:00 on Thursday as well as Fridays. For lots more information about everything, please see the MoMA's website, here

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