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CULTURE
Tim Burton at MoMA
by Maggie York-Worth
on 18 November 2009

MoMA raided Tim Burton’s house for stray drawings, sculptures of his characters, animated shorts and other miscellania to present their exhibition. The show promises previously unseen drawings and a co-exhibition with unknown shorts, including a macabre retelling of Hansel and Gretel. The range of materials and objects make this an exciting and telling insight into Burton’s work.

The L.A.-based filmmaker does not often display his work in museums, though for this show Burton uncovered props, sculptures and sketches from Batman Begins, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands and more. A particularly creepy addition is the toy boys and girls used in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that welcome Johnny Depp’s unique rendition of Willy Wonka. These give an especially visceral understanding of Burton’s work, as well as the incredible detail and precision he puts into each film. Burton is a master of atmosphere, and there is no better example than at MoMA.

For the Tim Burton exhibition, MoMA remade the space with black and white striped walls, a gaping mouth entrance and blacklights for his tk on velvet paintings. Not the normal fair at the museum, Burton provides plenty of material for the emotionally drawn, suffering child in all of us (much like the hero of his short “Vincent”) without losing that grown-up edge.

MoMA will also host showings of his iconic feature length films, including BeetleJuice, Batman and Batman Returns, and, if you can get in, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure with an introduction by Burton. As a natural partner to Burton’s own films, The Department of Film presents Tim Burton and the Lurid Beauty of Monsters, which plays films Burton cites as his inspiration. Not surprisingly, these include classic horror films, such as the original Frankenstein and The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, as well as one of his personal favorite, Omega Man.

MoMA’s Tim Burton gives an inside view into his twisted imagination and the surprisingly comical, dark films he has created.

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