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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

LACMA Hosts Landmark Exhibition Charting Filmmaker and Artist Tim Burton's Creative Vision and Process

(Los Angeles, February 1, 2011)—The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents Tim Burton, a major retrospective exploring the full range of Tim Burton’s creative work, both as a director of live-action and animated films, and as an artist, illustrator, photographer, and writer. Taking inspiration from popular culture, fairy tales, and traditions of the gothic, Burton has reinvented Hollywood genre filmmaking as an expression of a personal vision. 
 
The exhibition brings together more than 700 drawings, paintings, photographs, film and video works, storyboards, puppets, concept artworks, maquettes, costumes, and cinematic ephemera, including art from a number of unrealized and little-known personal projects. The exhibition was organized by Ron Magliozzi, Assistant Curator, and Jenny He, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Film, with Rajendra Roy, the Celeste Bartos Chief Curator of Film, The Museum of Modern Art. 

At LACMA, the exhibition is organized by Britt Salvesen, Department Head and Curator of the Wallis Annenberg Department of Photography, and Department Head and Curator of Prints and Drawings. Salvesen states: “This exhibition shows the full range of Tim Burton’s extraordinary creativity. Most people have a good sense of his style, but seeing the show demonstrates how persistent his vision is and how evident it was from very early on, before he was even thinking about making full-scale feature films. Many of his recurring themes stem from childhood and adolescence and combine a unique mixture of horror and humor.”
 
Born in Burbank in 1958, Tim Burton was heavily influenced by popular culture. Themes derived from advertising, science fiction, horror films, children’s literature and toys, holiday rituals, cartoons, and comic strips are reflected in his work. The exhibition also establishes Burton’s kinship with a generation of contemporary artists—many from Southern California like Burton himself—who have taken inspiration from similar sources. After studying at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), he worked as an animator at the Walt Disney Studios before breaking out on his own.
 
Many of the works in the exhibition come from the artist’s own archive, as well as from studio archives and private collections of Burton’s collaborators. Hundreds of never-before-exhibited drawings, paintings, sculptures, and sketchbooks will be joined by a selection of domestic and international film posters from his feature films, accompanied by music specifically composed for the exhibition by Burton’s longtime collaborator Danny Elfman. Also included will be film props and a selection of large- scale Polaroids created by Burton, as well as virtually unseen films— including early student films. 
 
Exhibition Overview
Tim Burton will collaborate with LACMA exhibition designers in transforming the Resnick Pavilion into a “Burtonesque” environment. Taking advantage of the indoor/outdoor nature of LACMA’s campus, Burton will install two large-scale outdoor artworks: on view through the Resnick Pavilion’s all-glass northern facade will be a deer-shaped topiary inspired by Edward Scissorhands (1990); elsewhere on campus, Balloon Boy, a 21-foot-tall, 8-foot-diameter many-eyed creature, an amalgamation of the tragic characters that Burton first introduced in his 1997 book The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories, will be installed. 
 
The exhibition itself is organized in three sections, each in relation to Burbank, California, the city in which Burton was raised and which served as the inspiration for much of his early work. ”Surviving Burbank” begins with Burton’s early days and includes studies, drawings, Super 8mm and 16mm films, and ephemera from the 1970s and 1980s, which serve to demonstrate the outpouring of creative energy and invention he was experiencing as a young artist. “Beautifying Burbank” shows Burton coming into his own as a creative thinker, as his talent matured during three years of study at CalArts and four years working as an animator at the Walt Disney Studios, where examples of his first professional work reveal the emergence of a number of Burton’s signature motifs and stylistic traits. Finally, “Beyond Burbank” segues into Burton’s work in feature film as his professional career blossomed following the success of Pee- wee’s Big Adventure in 1985. This section features costumes, props, puppets, and concept art from Burton’s career as a celebrated filmmaker. Burton’s graphic art and texts for non-film projects, hand-painted models, large-scale Polaroids, and a selection of domestic and international posters from his films round off the exhibition’s survey of the artist’s creative work during this period. 
 
Burton has also created seven new pieces for the exhibition, including the aforementioned Balloon Boy; a toyhouse diorama inspired by Burton’s six- episode Internet series The World of Stainboy (2000); an animatronic Robot Boy sculpture, based on a character from Burton’s 1997 children’s book The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories; and a revolving, multimedia, black-light carousel installation that hangs from the ceiling. Three original Burton “creature” sculptures are also on display. Information on exhibition-related programs will be available soon at lacma.org.

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