Yesterday I had the chance to attend the press preview of Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets, a new MoMA exhibition organized by Associate Curator Ron Magliozzi. I have been fascinated by their morbid, often grotesque, and always provocative stop animation films since I rented this DVD collection in 2006. What I didn’t realize was how extensive their body of work actually was.

The compelling exhibition covers over 30 years of the brothers’ work in every medium imaginable from graphic design and illustration to puppets and decor from their film sets as well as self portraits and video installations. It is their first major retrospective and will appeal to both newcomers and those already familiar with their work. It also pays tribute to their influences from the Polish surrealist posters of the 1960s, the illustration of Rudolf Freund for Scientific American, and the films of Walerian Borowczyk and Jan Svankmajer, among others.

If you too are fascinated by the macabre, surrealism, and the subconscious (though Stephen and Timothy Quay joked during the Q&A that they never had dreams as children), this is one exhibition you don’t want to miss. But it’s not all nightmare inducing as you will also get to experience their more humorous and whimsical side through their personal films and their commercial work, or as they affectionately called it, their “deal with the devil.”

Here are a few photos taken by my friend Raffi Asdourian of The Film Stage to give you a sneak peek and a music video they did for the experimental group His Name Is Alive. The retrospective opens August 12 to the public and runs through January 7. Over the course of the next six months, MoMa will also be showing their short films, feature films, commercials, music videos, as well as museum and artist documentaries. I would post more but I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

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