Jan Švankmajer is a Czech surrealist artist. His work spans several media. He is known for his surreal animations and features, which have greatly influenced other artists such as Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam, The Brothers Quay, Shane Acker, and many others.
Švankmajer's trademarks include very exaggerated sounds, often creating a very strange effect in all eating scenes. He often uses fast-motion sequences when people walk or interact. His movies often involve inanimate objects coming alive and being brought to life through stop-motion. Many of his films also include clay objects in stop-motion, otherwise known as claymation. Food is a favourite subject and medium. Stop-motion features in most of his work, though recently his feature films have been including much more live action sequences rather than animation.
Many of his movies, like the short film Down to the Cellar, are made from a child's perspective, while at the same time often having a truly disturbing and even aggressive nature. In 1972 the communist authorities banned him from making films, and many of his later films were suppressed. He was almost unknown in the West until the early 1980s.