Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist's Prescription for Lip-Reading PuppetsExhibition
Godfathers of Steampunk.
The Quay Brothers have spent several decades honing their aesthetic to a fine point, one that exists in a cold dark place at the end of a long corridor. Possessing an Americanized European sensibility, the siblings, who have worked as a single creative entity since childhood, seem to have been formed by an alchemy of their exposure to the drab horror of Communist Eastern Europe, Gothic architecture, B-horror movies, and '60s-era Polish Avant-Garde, among other things. They're like a conspicuously anti-commercial version of Tim Burton, (who had his own MoMA retrospective a few years back), burrowing away from their audience into the beautiful obscurantism of films like The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes, rather than meeting them halfway. The exhaustive show gives almost as much space to their varying influences and displays their drawings, films, and 3-D models for film and theatre as a unified whole. In fact seeing all the stuff side by side exposes a tendency on their part to work within a very narrow emotional (and aesthetic) grayscale -- the unrelenting faceless darkness a bit like a mirthless inside joke. Their dedicated ability to creating a parallel world with just enough familiarity to resonate is admirable and is best contained in the exhibition setting with their dormatorium series, small peephole miniatures that when successful, create the impression of entire universes beyond their confines -- a feat every artist aspires to.
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