By Deirdre Madden
Most of us are familiar with Tim Burton through his work as a director of bizarre, macabre movies such as Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas. His work, whether live action or stop-motion animation, has a dark, twisted touch to it that makes it easily recognizable, even before he seemed to start exclusively casting Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Dark, gothic, and often set in other realms, his animated work in particular tends to tell quirky love stories with outcast heroes, misunderstood heroines, and a strange cast of background characters who seem to come straight from a child’s nightmare. Yet, these monsters and rotting corpses are rendered in such a way as to make them appealing to us, even loveable. He manages to retain the weirdness, the creepiness, and at the same time, remove the fear from the nightmare. He is to movies as Roald Dahl is to children’s literature.
A collection of his work, spanning 3 distinct periods of his life, is currently on exhibition at the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA). Over 860 pieces are on display, including work from his personal archive. An exhibit of his life’s work, it begins with pieces from the “Surviving Burbank” period. This includes some of his Super 8mm and 16mm amateur films and drawings made while growing up in Burbank, California. Next is the “Beautifying Burbank” period which looks at his time at the California Institute of the Arts and Walt Disney Studios. The final section is “Beyond Burbank”, and looks at his feature film work beyond the screen, including costume design, special effects and character creation.
Burton is well known for the recent remakes of “Alice in Wonderland” and “Charlie in the Chocolate Factory”, but fewer people may be aware that he was an animator on “The Fox and the Hound” and “The Black Cauldron” while at Disney in the 80’s. He’s also responsible for “Batman” and “Batman Returns”, “Mars Attacks” and “Sleepy Hollow”, among others.
The exhibition was put together by the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York, and has been on tour through 5 other cities worldwide. SeMA is the only Asian venue and the Grand Finale of the tour. Already showcased in New York, Toronto, Los Angeles, Paris and Melbourne, this is the final opportunity to view such an extensive collection of Burton’s work.
Tickets are available at a kiosk outside the main doors, and are regularly 12,000W for Adults, 10,000W for teens and 8,000W for kids, with discounts for groups of more than 20, or if you have a Hyundai Card, as they’re sponsoring the event. The exhibition runs until April 14th, at SeMA, which is located near City Hall in Seoul. From the front gates of Deoksu Palace, follow the side street down to the weird squished statues that hurt your eyes to look at. The main entrance to SeMA is on your left – you can’t miss it, they’ve installed wonderfully creepy Tim Burton gates.
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