Monday, August 03, 2009

Is Burton Another Warhol?

Tim Burton at MoMA. Photo by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE.

Tim Burton recently visited New York City and the Museum of Modern Art in preparation of the massive exhibition "Tim Burton," displaying his art from November 2009 until April 2010, indieWIRE reports.

Discussing the upcoming show, MoMA director Glenn D. Lowry and curator Ron Magliozzi hailed Burton as another Andy Warhol because of his artwork spanning across multiple disciplines. The difference, they said, is that Burton's art is much less well-known than his films.

"So much of Warhol's [work] is well known," Magliozzi said, "So little of Tim's has been seen." Continuing on that note, a journalist asked Tim Burton what his mother would think of that comparison. Burton paused and then quipped, "She'd go, 'Who's Warhol'?"

Burton has said that he did not grow up in a "real museum culture," and "got more out of 'Beverly Hillbillies' than Eric Rohmer." Much of his early work was inspired by television he watched as a kid. But Burton was excited about this exhibition, albeit a little surprised.

Chief curator Raj Roy also commented on the Andy Warhol and Tim Burton comparison. "Knowing Tim’s work now, as I’ve had an opportunity to experience the full scope and range of his productivity, I certainly think that the comparison is valid.

"I think that just as Warhol never really had mainstream crossover success in the film world, Tim may never fully crossover in the art world; but that almost has more to do with their success and stature in their 'first fields' than with whether or not they merit acclaim in both worlds. People like to put artists in categories, especially when commerce is involved. If the MoMA show can help expose Tim Burton as a great artist in a variety of media, I’d be thrilled."

All of Burton's feature films and many of his student and non-professional shorts will be shown at the exhibition.

The staff at MoMA teased Burton and attendees with a sample from one of his rarest films, Hansel and Gretel. The short has rarely been seen since its television debut on the Disney Channel in 1983. The clip featured a Japanese Hansel and Gretel and a nasty witch with a candy cane hook nose.

"If you think I’m tasty and you want my body, come on Hansel take a bite," lures a decapitated gingerbread man, alluding to Rod Stewart's 1970's song, "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy." "Finish me!" screams the cookie.

"It's hard to believe that ever played on the Disney Channel," laughed Burton at the end of the clip. The excerpt was from a video, as no film prints exist. "The reason they don't have a copy is because I tried to burn them all myself," he added later. "Those things were never meant to be seen."

"Works from the cinema are essential works of art that need to be collected and preserved," MoMA’s Glenn Lowry said in an introduction to the hour-long presentation. Even after decades of presenting cinematic and filmmakers' artwork, this is MoMA's "most comprehensive monographic show," said Lowry.

Burton hasn't seen much of the artwork since he created it, and felt re-energized by the exhibition. "It's more about the process and ideas, than film and art," Burton said of the MoMA exhibition.

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