This past weekend I finally made it out to the Seoul Museum of Art (SEMA) to take in the finale of the Tim Burton Exhibit. The fact that I could have seen this in Toronto boggles the mind as to why I didn’t know about it then. Either that or I did but wasn’t able to make it out there. Or have a thing against Toronto. Unfortunately for those of you not in South Korea or within a reasonable distance, this is the last stop of the exhibit which was launched by the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2009.
But I digress, I’ve been in love with Tim Burton’s work since I was a little girl and saw The Nightmare Before Christmas for the first time. There was something magical about that film that no other film seemed to have. Not even other Disney movies seemed to be able to capture emotion in that same magical way.
The exhibit was split into three sections
Surviving Burbank: This part of the exhibit focused on his youth and his discontentment growing up in a California suburb. He felt very alienated and disconnected from his surroundings and channeled these thoughts and energies into his artwork. In this section we saw his earliest films, paintings, drawings and even high school assignments (both written and drawn).
Beautifying Burbank: This section focused on artwork while he attended the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) to the time he worked at Walt Disney. This is when he developed his style, which is referred to as “grotesque, humorous and unique”. Many of his themes continued to focus on childhood, which can be seen in his later works. We also got to see some of his earliest film shorts, including ‘Hansel and Gretel(1982)’ and ‘Vincent’.
Beyond Burbank: The final section focuses on his rise to prominence as a leading director in Hollywood. On display was mostly sketches and props from many of his films, including 21 puppets from The Nightmare Before Christmas which have never been displayed altogether at once before. Props from other films include Edward Scissorhands, Batman, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Sleepy Hollow. Most of the props were costumes used in the films, or puppets from his stop-animation films.
His style is considered to be so unique that it is often referred to as “Burtonesque”, and his impact on the film worldwide has been indisputable. I very much enjoyed my afternoon at the gallery, immersing myself fully into the world of Tim Burton was surreal. I wish I had been able to take photos in the gallery, but alas, that is not allowed, and I was too busy absorbing what I saw anyways.