As we approach the midpoint of the five-month Tim Burton exhibition (November 22, 2009–April 26, 2010), I am reflecting on what may be our visitors’ first impressions of the show. Hopefully those who came to MoMA familiar with Tim’s films—whether they know him as the director responsible for cult favorite Edward Scissorhands (1990), the imaginative and innovative creator of The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), the mischievous mind behind the irreverent Mars Attacks! (1996), or the filmmaker who brought the tale of tonsorial terror that is Sweeney Todd (2007) to the big screen—were pleasantly surprised to find another Tim Burton on display alongside the anticipated props and storyboards. Approximately 70 percent of the works in the exhibition had never been published or shown in public, and it is these works—projects both personal and professional, realized on paper and canvas, or via installations and sculptures—that give visitors a view of Tim as illustrator, cartoonist, photographer, and writer of verse, among other creative roles. These diverse works are united by their intimate, subjective nature; each conveys Tim’s distinctive way of viewing his world and the characters who populate it. The revelation of the private art of Tim Burton to MoMA’s visitors may be similar to my own personal revelation during our first meeting with Tim at his studio in London almost two years ago….
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