See the Quay Brothers’ ‘Black Drawings,’ a Series of Imaginary Film Posters

"The Black Drawings can be considered as a blueprint for their future work."

Stephen and Timothy Quay, identical twin artists from the suburbs of Philadelphia, started their careers in the city of brotherly love as students studying illustration and film at the University of the Arts. During the early to mid-Seventies, the Quay Brothers began to focus more on cinema, creating a language all their own full of esoteric symbols, eccentric materials fashioned into strange creatures, and atmospheric settings.

Their Black Drawings were also created during this time — a series of imaginary film posters created from ink-black graphite. Now, those rarely seen works are featured in a new book, Quay Brothers: The Black Drawings 1974—1977, published by Ludion. From the publisher:

They kept their first autonomous art project hidden for decades, allowing only a few glimpses to transpire in some of their animation classics such as Nuctura Artificialia and Street of Crocodiles. In hindsight, the Black Drawings can be considered as a blueprint for their future work. This book offers a first in-depth exploration of this important graphic series that reveals many of the themes and techniques that would come to life in their celebrated animation films.

See a preview of Quay Brothers: The Black Drawings 1974—1977 in our gallery.

Midday Curfew (Cyrffew Canol Dydd), c. 1974-77
Pencil on illustration board
76 x 51 cm (29 ⅞ x 20 ⅛ in)
Courtesy QbfZ Collection