Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets

In the November 22 issue, Sanford Schwartz writes, “With his great theme of Americans and their avid encounters with European experience, Henry James might have found the Quay brothers to be updated versions of some of his own characters. Something like a romance with European life and culture, anyway, seems to be at the center of the art of Timothy and Stephen Quay, currently the subject of an overdue retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. They are identical twins who were born in 1947, outside Philadelphia, and have lived and worked side by side in London for decades. They are best known for their stop-motion animated films, made with puppets, and to take in these films is to become immersed in a kind of Expressionist fairy tale. More precisely, one feels that, in some of their most engaging and affecting movies, they speak to us from a deep imaginative rapport with the spirit, and tensions, of Central Europe and of German-speaking Europe in the years before and after World War I.”

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