Picasso, Monet … Tim Burton?
The visually inventive filmmaker behind “Edward Scissorhands,” “Batman” and “Sweeney Todd,” among others, will be the subject of “Tim Burton,” a major exhibition at Gotham’s Museum of Modern Art beginning Nov. 22 and running through April 26.
The show will include more than 700 pieces: paintings, drawings, storyboards, maquettes, puppets and other work created or designed by Burton. MoMA will also screen a complete retrospective of the helmer’s 14 films over the course of the show.
The exhibition follows Burton from childhood through his most recent work, which the director finds appropriate: “Everybody draws,” Burton observed. “I just never stopped when the teachers told me to.”
In addition, MoMA will present a series of films that influenced or inspired the helmer, including James Whale’s 1931 “Frankenstein,” Robert Wiene’s silent 1920 horror film “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” and Roger Corman’s 1961 “The Pit and the Pendulum.”
Cinephiles will also have a chance to view Burton’s earliest nonpro films and student art, on display for the first time.
The exhibition is sponsored by the Sci Fi Channel and organized by MoMA’s assistant curator, Ron Magliozzi; the department of film’s curatorial assistant, Jenny He; and chief curator of film Rajendra Roy.
Burton confessed that when he first heard from museum reps, “I thought it was an elaborate joke of some sort.” The helmer, working on a new version of “Alice in Wonderland” for Disney, said the exhibit’s organizers excavated a huge collection of work, much of which even he had forgotten.
“It’s easier for me to think things through visually instead of verbally, so it’s like a diary in that way,” Burton said of the show. “I have so many drawings. I never look at the stuff — I just keep doing it.”
“There is no other living filmmaker possessing Tim Burton’s level of accomplishment and reputation whose full body of work has been so well hidden from public view,” Maggliozi said.
Much of that unseen output was produced by Burton while he was working for Disney, ostensibly on “The Fox and the Hound” and “The Black Cauldron,” but also on his own projects.
“I wasn’t very good in the animation department, so they just let me sit there and draw things for a year, which was great,” Burton recalled. “But at the end of it all, I realized they weren’t going to use any of it.”
Now, Burton’s fans will get a rare look at some of that work, though the artist himself is anxious about the prospect.
“When you make a film, you feel exposed in a way, and this feels even more exposing,” Burton confessed. “I feel like it’s a real honor and all, but I’m a bit nervous about it, too.”