“Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets” at The Museum of Modern Art

12 August 2012 – 7 January 2013

The identical twin Quay brothers, have laboured together in their London studio, Atelier Koninck, for over 30 years, creating avant-garde stop-motion puppet animation, live-action films, and graphic design that challenge easy categorization.

As filmmakers, stage designers, and illustrators in a range of genres, the Quays have penetrated many fields of visual expression for a number of different audiences, from avant-garde cinema and opera to art for publications and television advertising. With such a great range of outputs and an array of influences, it is not surprising that their aesthetic is reminiscent of collage, a medium at the intersections of marginal and popular culture. Curator, Ron Magliozzi remarks, “The Quay Brothers’ work comes from a unique personal aesthetic rooted in disguised meanings, creative accident,  marginalia, and collage.”

They have produced over 70 moving image works, including two feature films; music videos for Peter Gabriel, Michael Penn, 16 Horsepower, and His Name Is Alive; dance films; documentaries; and signature personal works such as Street of Crocodiles (1986), the “Stille Nacht” series (1988–2010), The Comb [From the “Museums of Sleep”] (1990), Institute Benjamenta (1995), In Absentia (2000), and The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (2012). They have also designed sets and projections for opera, drama, and concert performances, as well as some recent site-specific pieces based on the work of Béla Bartók and Kafka.

In conjunction with a film series currently being presented, “Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets” encompasses the full range of work by the Quay Brothers, from drawing, painting, and etching, to film transfers and collage works. Over three dozen collage works are currently on display until January.

(from the museum’s press materials)


The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019

(212) 708-9400

Wednesday through Monday: 10:30AM-5:30PM, Friday: 10:30AM-8:00PM, Closed Tuesday


Tailor’s Shop, decor for the film “Street of Crocodiles”
by Quay Brothers
35 7⁄16 × 26 × 30 5⁄16″
wood, glass, plaster, and fabric
photograph by Robert Barker, Cornell University