Tim Burton at MoMA…

December 30, 2009

New Yorkers, I require your attention. I implore you to skip out on the Rubin and the (overrated) New Museum this season and head uptown for your yearly cultural outing. MoMA is currently providing a most amazing opportunity to you. The 3rd floor’s Special Exhibitions Gallery, the Theatre 1 & Theatre 2 Galleries, and the lobby since November have housed a massive presentation of film and fine art dedicated entirely to works by filmmaker Tim Burton.

Tim Burton's original drawing of Edward Scissorhands

Better known as the director of films like Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Batman (& Returns), Beetlejuice & the much anticipated Alice in Wonderland remake, he is also an accomplished painter, photographer and sketch artist. Mr. (common law) Bonham-Carter is currently displaying 700+ works in various media from his personal collection, including items used to inspire his films’ creative teams.

I do love Tim Burton’s film work, and I must confess that I will likely not see this collection in-person. Much of the excitement I have for his fine art was generated by what I have found available online, all fantastic. [A good starting point, though there is more out there to see, is available here.] What I love about his work, aside from the pop culture relevance, is how successfully it captures the persona and reputation Burton has made for himself.

His art, which MoMA correctly labels pop surrealism, is stunning to see. It is perverse, but warm and understandable. Each piece feels like a story in the making: an isolated, lonely figure with some deformity, a physical one usually, that somehow manages to be comfortable in this setting. Burton, who worked for four years as an animator for Disney, seems to be stuck in his early teens. His work displays a (obstinate) innocence, never treading into real introspection as children rarely do. It feels raw and honest; what you see is what you get.

The style appeals to me in an odd way that I do not fully understand. My thoughts: wow that’s clever, who would think of that?, Salad Fingers on YouTube, technique is really developed, they look so sad. You will see what I mean (unless you’re the New York Times…bastards). Check out some of his work below.

The exhibition, oddly sponsored by SyFy and sure to be the highlight for most MoMA visitors, closes on April 26th. Please do grab the 6 train and walk over to 53rd & 5th. I promise you will not regret the trip.

Here is a Burton-made ad for the event.

Well Endowed by Tim Burton, which I absolutely adore.

Untitled (Picasso Woman) by Tim Burton, also gorgeous.

Untitled (Trick or Treat) by Tim Burton


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