Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tim Burton, Edgar Allen Poe, Edward Gorey and MoMA

Tim Burton is known for his movies; Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Alice in Wonderland (the ninth highest grossing film ever made) and Sweeney Todd.  And rightfully so. They are gorgeously dark, child-like yet demented, and touched with a poignancy usually not felt in horror and fantasy.

Three years ago I was introduced to his art and writing at an exhibition at MoMA in NYC. Tim Burton is a prolific artist, and I walked through rooms of sketches of mysterious stairways, paintings of aliens, sculptures of circus creatures, glow-in-the-dark puppets, costumes from his movies, and other ephemera. 

Strolling through the outdoor patio of the museum I noticed two topiaries from Edward Scissorhands. Also on display were those terrible eyes that popped out of Large Marge's face in the memorable scene from Pee Wee's Big Adventure.

The original sketches of his first ideas from Edward Scissorhands were situated near a child's dollhouse where each room contained a grisly murder scene.

Along with the Edward sketches was the costume Johnny Depp wore in the movie, his scissor-handed gloves, and cinema posters featuring not only Edward, but all of Tim Burton's movies.

For admission to the black-lighted carnival area, one entered into the mouth of a toothy monster, and through a long black and white striped hallway dotted with video monitors showing Stain Boy, a character from Burton's book The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories.

  This book contains stories and poems sometimes reminiscent of the tales of Edward Gorey.  Find his book here:

There was a blotter from his desk filled with doodles and early ideas.  

There is a sweet and needy feel to his work, and one wonders if he is sad, manic, brilliant, or mad. Possibly a combination. One of his early films is called Vincent, about a young man who is captivated by Vincent Price, much like Tim Burton. He is also influenced by the works of Poe. The dark and moody images of his work seems to somehow echo Poe's elegant words. I feel if Masque of the Red Death were made into a film directed by Burton we would witness some of the most stunning imagery ever produced.

Read Poe's startling story here:

Oh, how I wish this display would come back to NYC. But I don't think this will happen anytime soon--Burton has chosen to bring his display to Paris at Cinematheque. 

Lucky Paris.

Dark Shadows, featuring Johnny Depp as vampire Barnabas Collins was released May 11, 2012.

Big Eyes was released last Christmas.

Miss Peregrine's School for Peculiar Children expected to release on Christmas 2016.


  1. Wow. I had no idea he was so prolific. Sounds amazing.

    1. I had no idea either!!
      I am a huge fan and found things about him that I never dreamed. I would have gone back to the show that evening or the next day--but alas--it was the last day.

  2. I ditto that wish about a return visit to NYC - I went on Valentine's Day, which happened to be a Sunday, and the joint was MOBBED! It was a constant slow shuffle to get around everything, and it really was impressive *how much* there was to see! A thrilling exhibit.

    1. Also - the Batman cape was there!!!!! :-)

    2. I can't even imagine a was packed during the week--brave woman.
      I'm sure it was totally worth it.
      I want my house like the black lit circus room--or at least a bathroom...


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