The Brothers Quay are pretty strange, even for identical twins who finish each other’s sentences. They’re Philly-bred, London-based, and rooted deep in old and avant-garde Eastern European creative influences. They make dark, stunning stop-motion shorts, features, and music videos from doll parts, screws, and mechanical animals, among other things. With a MoMA retrospective opening this Sunday and running through January 7th, we felt inspired to round up a collection of varied and beautiful stop-motion films, the field that the brothers have had such tremendous influence over through the past 30 years. Enjoy, and try not to think about the meticulous production methods involved with said stop-motion. It will make your head spin and your fingers ache. We just want to hurt your heart.
The critical success of Brothers Quay’s 1986 35mm short Street of Crocodiles jump started their stop-motion practice. Inspired by the short novel by Polish author and artist Bruno Schulz, and dubbed one of the ten best animated films of all time by Terry Gilliam, the film stars a despondent man puppet exploring an abandoned workshop, his own isolation, and a myriad of “mechanical realities and manufactured pleasures,” as the directors explain.