A Major Stop Motion Exhibit in Barcelona Explores Starewitch, Švankmajer and Brothers Quay

“Darkness Light Darkness” by Jan Svankmajer.

“Animated cinema is the demiurgic art par excellence: matter comes to life and is transformed in the hands and imaginations of the creators. They, more than anybody, know about the secret life of objects.” This description, comes from the exhibition “Metamorphosis: Fantasy Visions in Starewitch, Švankmajer and the Quay Brothers,” now playing at the Centre de Cultura Contemporanea (CCCB) in Barcelona, Spain, and it’s a good summary of the work of these four visionary animators.

Ladislas Starewitch (1882-1965), Jan Svankmajer (b. 1934), and the Quay Brothers (b. 1947) are arguably the foremost names in puppet animation. The exhibition does not limit itself to the quartet of animators, but also highlights a dizzying variety of artists, filmmakers, and writers who were direct and indirect influences on them, including Arnold Böcklin, Walerian Borowczyk, Charles Bowers, Luis Buñuel, Émile Cohl, Gustave Courbet, Segundo de Chomón, Salvador Dalí, Monsu Desiderio, James Ensor, Max Ernst, Francisco de Goya, Jean Grandville, Emma Hauck, Max Klinger, Georges Méliès, Lotte Reiniger, Bruno Schulz, and Robert Walser among others. Svankmajer and the Quays have appeared at events related to the show, and the Quays produced a special installation for it.

Here is a photoset from the show and below is an interview (in Spanish) with Carolina López, director of the CCCB’s cinema center Xcèntric and curator of the exhibition:

“Metamorphosis” is a coproduction of the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona and La Casa Encendida (Madrid). After it closes at the CCCB on September 7, the show moves to Madrid, where it will be on view from October 2, 2014 through January 11, 2015. A companion book to the exhibition is also available.


  • AmidAmidi

    Wonderful…especially because I’ll be visiting Barcelona while this exhibit is still on display. The photos from the exhibit look quite unconventional for an animation show. Can’t wait to see how the work of these filmmakers is represented.

  • DangerMaus

    Svankmeyer is the one who did that reimagining of Alice in Wonderland where all of the characters were skeletons and the whole thing felt like it was about death, right?

    At least, I’m pretty sure that was who did that show. I believe I have it on VHS. It was an interesting take on the story, but it also made me slightly nauseous. I can never see how films like that are considered masterpieces in other than experimental technique when the characters and story that is being told has no emotional effect on a person or, at least, it didn’t on me. I couldn’t see anything in the film beyond it being a somewhat interesting experiment in stop motion animation.

  • DangerMaus

    Should have watched that clip first. “Alicia” was the film I was referring to. Also, apologies for spelling his last name wrong.

  • Švanky Švankersmith

    Amazing exhibit. Quick correction: Interview is in Catalan, not Spanish.