The World of Tim Burton Exhibition

The World of Tim Burton

This Christmas I was fortunate to have my family stay in Tokyo with me over the festive period. One of the events pencilled in was The World of Tim Burton Exhibition at the Mori Arts Centre Gallery in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo. I read about this exhibition about 5 years ago when it was held in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition was attended by record breaking crowds and it received top reviews. Like many artists with extensive careers, Burton has been involved in so diversely different projects in genre and context. I wouldn’t say I am the biggest Tim Burton fan but there are some projects which I have been drawn to purely because of the concept, subject matter, character design or theme. We planned to go Saturday, December 27th. For an exhibition that started November 1st, I felt and hoped there would be no record breaking crowds and that Tim would not be in attendance. However, we still had to queue for over an hour to get in! I should have learned by now; never go to events at the weekend in Tokyo; it’s very likely that 10 million people will be in the queue with you! Below: Tim Burton exhibition entrance and poster. Notice the expressionistic interior entrance.

Tim Burton Exhibition Entrance.jpg Tim Burton Exhibition Poster.jpg
The exhibition was very extensive and was divided up into sections.  The artwork exhibited spans over four decades. I was amazed by the amount of drawings and illustrations exhibited. Burton has been so proactive, I thought.  Each section was based on a theme or project which customized the spectator’s viewing preferences. For me, I mainly wanted to view his early work, influences, inspirations, horror drawings, doodles on napkins and the work which learned heavily on German Expressionism influences (i.e. mise-en-scenes of Edward Scissorhands and Batman).  Below: Alice in Wonderland and Edward Scissorhands sketches.

Alice in Wonderland (2009) Edward Scissorhands Sketch

From his early work (16-26 yrs old), you could see how his future projects would take shape. Clowns, monsters, horror characters and bug-eyed people are predominantly his main interest. The children’s book writers Rohald Dahl and the cartoonist Dr Suess (Theodor Geisel) are noticeable early influences, especially the use of anapaest style of poetry; a very characteristic element of the Dr Suess children’s books which Burton mimics in his early work. Below: The Boy with Nails in his Eyes and The Queen of Cydonia

The Boy With Nails in His Eyes The Queen of Cydonia

Some of my favourite work is The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories. The illustrations are a mix of satire, black humour and misunderstood characters in the form of a monster/alien-like creatures. Viewing these original drawings on scraps of ripped paper, complete with smudging, scribbles and construction lines, I found all very engaging. I got a lot from this exhibition, even his unrealized projects. A wealth of art which didn’t even make pre-production. Great exhibition and a nice way to round off the year.

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