Thursday, March 11, 2010

Calling All Monsters: Tim Burton at The MoMA

If you haven’t made it to The Museum of Modern Art to see the Tim Burton exhibition yet, you still have another eight weeks to get on line! The show, described by the gallery guide as: “…over seven hundred rarely or never before seen drawings, paintings, photographs, moving image works, storyboards, puppets, concept artworks, maquettes, costumes, and cinematic ephemera…” has been a mob scene since it was unleashed at MoMA in November. On a recent Friday, admission tickets for the exhibit, which are timed at twenty-minute intervals, were sold out by one o’clock in the afternoon.

The main approach to the gallery is lined with video monitors showing a selection Burton’s short subject work, which tends to back up the line of visitors. “Just so you know, you can see all the videos on Youtube!” barked out one of the ticket takers, trying to keep the line moving. No one paid much attention though, already engrossed in the shorts, unaware yet of the really, really good stuff waiting within.

As a terrific foreshadowing effect, the curators have the first room in the gallery illuminated solely by “black light” and featuring a spinning miniature Carousel (2009) — complete with demented carnival music composed by collaborator Danny Elfman— and a selection of Burton’s “Predatory Clown Series” (1985-94). The idea of a sinister menace underlying the surface of everyday life and popular culture echoes throughout the show. No one is safe from monsters disguised as Superman and Snickers Bars and everyday clowns! Oh my!

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