Sunday, May 29, 2011

tim burton

The much anticipated Tim Burton exhibition opened at LACMA this weekend. I've always been a fan, although perhaps not die-hard enough to wait in line for hours for a chance to have him sign my exhibition catalogue (although I did consider it). I loved Pee Wee Herman's Big Adventure, Edward Scissorhands, Nightmare Before Christmas, and of course Vincent and Frankenweenie. I enjoyed Batman, Beetlejuice, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, and Corpse Bride. He's got a unique aesthetic -- even if it does get a bit repetitive sometimes -- a nice mix of ghoulishness and sensitivity.

Although it wasn't easy for anyone, I think the LACMA presentation is quite wonderful. Yes, it's incredibly dense with over 700 objects, but you can take what you like and ignore the rest. If you're deeply fascinated by Burton and his artistic process and influences, the exhibition demands many repeat visits. If you're a more casual fan, you can move through more quickly, but how can you not love the black-light carousel room with all its quirky creatures dancing around an electrical glass orb?

And how can you not love a whole case full of Jack Skellington heads that help visualize how grueling and time consuming the whole stop-motion animation process really is? Never mind another case full of various sized eyeballs, and the myriad skeletons, martians, and other bizarre characters that have appeared in Burton's movies, short films, and writings?

The LA Times (Christopher Knight) gave the exhibition a scathing review. Brutal. Yes, it's a money-maker, especially in this town. And yes, maybe the MoMA curators could have made a bigger impact by being more selective in the works they chose to exhibit. But I still think it's pretty fabulous that we're able to showcase the career of a local-boy-made-good while he's still relatively young. And I know there are tons of people who will love the exhibition, and will thoroughly enjoy soaking up all the imagery and history that's showcased there. Furthermore, I think it's potentially an inspiration to young aspiring artists to be able to study the career of a boy who was able to put his creative imagination to such prolific and successful use. Plus, it's FUN!

That being said, some of my favorite pieces are outside the main gallery walls. Check out Balloon Boy, the Topiary, and the crazy dancers:

And of course, there was the opening party. Please, could we be more L.A.? I was disappointed that people didn't really dress up in Burtonesque attire, but there were plenty of celebrity sightings, including Mr. Burton himself of course, Danny Elfman, Martin Landau, Crispin Glover, Johnny Knoxville, Slash, and the glorious Jane's Addiction performing live to top off the evening with a bang. So LACMA. So not the Getty. And honestly, that's the last time I'll ever compare the two institutions.

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