Tim Burton welcomed in L.A. by hundreds of fans — and one savage review

May 31, 2011 | 12:35 p.m.

A visitor snaps a photo at the Tim Burton exhibition at the LACMA on May 25, 2011. (Gabriel Bouys/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

People attend the preview of the Tim Burton exhibition at the LACMA on May 25, 2011. (Gabriel Bouys/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

A visitor attends the preview of Tim Burton's exhibition at the LACMA on May 25, 2011. (Gabriel Bouys/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

A visitor attends the preview of Tim Burton's exhibition at the LACMA on May 25, 2011. (Gabriel Bouys/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

A visitor attends the preview of the Tim Burton exhibition at the LACMA on May 25, 2011. (Gabriel Bouys/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

Visitors attend the preview of the Tim Burton exhibition at the LACMA on May 25, 2011. (Gabriel Bouys/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

Tim Burton's exhibition at the LACMA on May 25, 2011. (Gabriel Bouys/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

Visitors attend the preview of the Tim Burton's exhibition at the Lacma in Los Angeles, California on May 25, 2011. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents Tim Burton, a major retrospective exploring the full range of Tim Burton’s creative work, both as a director of live-action and animated films, and as an artist, illustrator, photographer, and writer. Taking inspiration from popular culture, fairy tales, and traditions of the gothic. The exhibition brings together more than 700 drawings, paintings, photographs, film and video works, storyboards, puppets, concept artworks, maquettes, costumes, and cinematic ephemera. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Visitors attend the preview of Tim Burton's exhibition at the LACMA on May 25, 2011. (Gabriel Bouys/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

A visitor attends the preview of Tim Burton's exhibition at the LACMA on May 25, 2011. (Gabriel Bouys/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

A visitor attends the preview of Tim Burton's exhibition at the LACMA on May 25, 2011. (Gabriel Bouys/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

A visitor attends the preview of Tim Burton's exhibition at the LACMA on May 25, 2011. (Gabriel Bouys/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

Visitors attend the preview of Tim Burton's exhibition at the LACMA on May 25, 2011. (Gabriel Bouys/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

A visitor attends the preview of Tim Burton's exhibition at the LACMA on May 25, 2011. (Gabriel Bouys/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

A visitor attends the preview of Tim Burton's exhibition at the LACMA on May 25, 2011. (Gabriel Bouys/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

Tim Burton's exhibition at the LACMA on May 25, 2011. (Gabriel Bouys/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

The Tim Burton exhibition at the LACMA on May 25, 2011. (Gabriel Bouys/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

One of many unusual displays at Tim Burton's exhibition at the LACMA on May 25, 2011. (Gabriel Bouys/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

A visitor attends the preview of Tim Burton's exhibition at the LACMA on May 25, 2011. (Gabriel Bouys/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

"(Untitled) Blue Girl with Skull" from the Tim Burton exhibition at the Los Angeles County Musem of Art. (LACMA)

"The Green Man" from the Tim Burton exhibition at the Los Angeles County Musem of Art. (LACMA)

"Untitled (Picasso Woman)" from the Tim Burton exhibition at the Los Angeles County Musem of Art. (LACMA)

"Blue Girl With Wine" from the Tim Burton exhibition at the Los Angeles County Musem of Art. (LACMA)

Tim Burton stands at the entrance to the new LACMA exhibition devoted to his work as a filmmaker and an illustrator on May 28, 2011. (Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)

A jet-lagged Tim Burton hit Los Angeles this weekend and Los Angeles hit back — well, more precisely, the art critic for the Los Angeles Times hit back with a brutal review of the huge new exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art  that is titled, simply,”Tim Burton.” Critic Christopher Knight essentially gave the exhibit a review so harsh that it might even have made the ever-optimistic Ed Wood cringe.

Knight wrote: “Tim Burton,” the big, poorly organized traveling show from New York’s Museum of Modern Art that surveys the genesis and development of the Hollywood director’s distinctive visual style, opened Sunday at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It should be effervescent. Instead, the show is a monotonous plod.” The critic also weighed in on the exhibit’s propensity for props: “In an art museum, do we really need to see baby Penguin’s black-wicker pram from “Batman,” Catwoman’s shredded polyurethane cat suit or the fluffy angora sweater used as a fetishistic prop in “Ed Wood“? Such dark or peculiar items are often outward signs of their character’s concealed inner life; but that’s catalog essay interpretation, not exhibition material. You get the feeling they’re only here to satisfy the paying movie fans. Sometimes the display looks like the Arclight Cinema lobby on steroids. Toss in assorted puppets and a few toy-like sculptures, such as a suspended flying-saucer carousel illuminated by black-lights, and the quotient of celebrity self-indulgence climbs.”

Ouch. Well, Burton, who lives in London, got a far warmer welcome on Saturday from hundreds of fans who turned out to see him during a promotional visit tied to the exhibit. Gina McIntyre, the resident black-clad Burton expert here at the Hero Complex and the deputy film editor for the Calendar section of the Los Angeles Times, was there to report on the scene and sit down with the filmmaker. Here’s an excerpt from her cover story in Monday’s Calendar section:

The line for autographs snaked eastward down Wilshire Boulevard on Saturday afternoon, even though representatives from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art warned that some fans waiting in line to meet Tim Burton, the artist and filmmaker who’s the subject of the museum’s new exhibition, would probably go home disappointed. The scene outside had the hallmarks one might expect — patrons carrying black umbrellas, dressed in pinstriped or Gothic-inspired finery or even more elaborate costumes. But inside one of the museum’s offices, Burton, wearing a black suit jacket, red-and-black-striped socks and dark tinted glasses, just looked slightly overwhelmed, battling jet lag and general fatigue.

Tim Burton at LACMA exhibition. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

McIntyre did a great job with the lengthy feature  (especially on a tight turn-around deadline), here are some of gem quotes from the story…

On the interest in the exhibit:

“It’s shocking, really. Certainly not anything I ever expected or anything like that. It’s really nice, though, because it’s more important than anything really, when you connect with somebody or the work you do helps connect to somebody — I find it incredibly moving and very special and it makes me almost want to cry sort of. If I think back to how I felt as a younger person, how lonely and isolated I felt, now when you meet people and feel a connection it’s really amazing. Certain people seem to feel the pain of life a bit more. I think everybody feels those things; some connect with it more than others.”

On his fascinations:

“I just like making things. It’s fun. That’s why I like making movies or I like drawing, just making things. I think when I stop making movies, I can imagine myself living in a trailer out in the desert making weird things … It’s an important form of therapy for me, even just doodling something helps me to think. I was not a very verbal communicator growing up so it was a form of communication for me. I can communicate a little bit better verbally, but it’s still a process for me. [Drawing is] kind of a calming thing for me, it’s a Zen kind of thing. It’s important for my whole thought process.”

A visitor at the Tim Burton exhibition at the LACMA (Gabriel Bouys / Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

On his social rhythms:

“I get in trouble sometimes. I’ve been known to burst out laughing at weddings, serious speeches, church.”

On digital culture:

 “I don’t do Facebook or Twitter or any of that. Twitter, that even sounds horrible. Twittering. Geez.”

On the exhibit’s display of his more primitive pieces:

“It really made me almost ill. It’s like hanging your dirty laundry on the walls.”

I wonder which Burton will remember more, the lively feature or the bruising review?

– Geoff Boucher

RECENT AND RELATED

Comments


19 Responses to Tim Burton welcomed in L.A. by hundreds of fans — and one savage review

  1. stasiuwong says:

    It was absolutely right to see all those props that were the end product of Burton's initial doodles and sketches. Having seen the exhibit at MOMA in NYC, I don't feel the props overwhelmed the experience because they were the drawings made into tangible form.

    • Tonidoll says:

      That review was ridiculous. Obviously written by an art snob or someone with no sense of fun. I chose to put it in the trash. I hope Burton, LACMA and everyone else who read it does the same. See the show. It is packed with wonderful artifacts, great humor, and insight into the artist.

  2. Guest says:

    We went to the exhibit on Sunday and the "bruising review" was right on point. It was not well organized. There were too many items in too small a space with too many people to actually look at any of them. The drawings are very detailed and require more than a couple of seconds to fully appreciate. With so many drawings and other objects on each wall the crowd trying to look at them was several people deep which made actually seeing the things impossible. I've never been to a less satisfying exhibit in any museum.

    • tonidoll says:

      If there was too much for you to take in, why don't you go again? The mere fact that there was a big crowd filled with people trying to look at everything, proves that the review and your commentary is a little off base.

      • modi says:

        damn, dog. he told you.

      • Tnat says:

        Going again is a lovely idea, but the exhibit should have been better-organized in the first place: Too many items were included and crammed into too small a space to accommodate even two people trying to see them at once. "The mere fact that there was a big crowd" does not "prove" the review and this observation are off-base. It doesn't prove anything, except the fact there was a big crowd. Unlike you, I actually saw the show, and the bruising review was accurate. There was easily 30% too much stuff, too much of poor quality (do we really need to see every crude scribble he created in his bedroom in Burbank in his teens?) and too many cute but irrelevant items which were not created by him (the sweater, the wicker baby carriage). Guest is right, you are wrong.

    • Kim says:

      No organization or curation. No sense of the context to which various pieces belonged or their significance (if any). And poor Burbank, getting trashed left and right. That provided my sister and I with a big laugh but also wonderment given that Burbank is home to both Disney and Warner Bros. studios. Talk about biting the hand that feeds!

  3. Specky says:

    I've always thought of Burton more as an artist than a filmmaker. I have a very hard time connecting with most of his films, so a museum exhibit seems like it would make more sense.

    • Kevin says:

      David Lynch also is an artist, painter, photograph, and had recent art exibited around the world (Paris Cartier foundation in 2010, Los Angeles in 2009…).
      Wim wenders has just published a few of his photographs from around the world.
      and Terry Gilliam in his mocument "The man from La Mancha" shows him drawing Don Quichote very well!

      It is hard to imagine that film directors are other than what they are acclaimed to.

      We imagine them as stoical figures behind a camera . But they are forces of nature that embrace all of their creativity in any way they can. Like true artists.

  4. CalGal says:

    Has the LA Times EVER liked anything by Tim Burton? This reveiw doesn 't surprise me one bit, but the fact that the exhibit drew a huge opening crowd shows the regard the public had for the "bruising" review. Seriously, do you think Burton is really "hurt" by the LA Times review??? Give me a break—Congrats to Tim on a creative and interesting exhibit–what a testament to a wonderful imagination.

  5. Dave Wyman says:

    Saw the exhibit in New York and loved it. Can't disagree more with the Times review.

  6. abhishek says:

    Tim burton is a great artist. I admire his work a lot http://www.krishbiomedicals.com

  7. Chas says:

    I agree. This show belongs in a wax museum in SF.

  8. itsgottabeme says:

    Tim Burton movies are just plain weird. Other than Beatlejuice, which required Michael Keaton’s great sense of humor to make it appealing, the rest of this guy’s movies weren’t very good.

  9. Christopher Gerron says:

    Museums and newspapers; exhausted repositories of exhausted culture, and each in denial. It’s no surprise that Tim Burton’s work has confounded both institutions. The best art always confounds.
    <a href="http://www.americanhouselocationunknow.com” target=”_blank”>www.americanhouselocationunknow.com

  10. Steve says:

    I saw the exhibit when it was in Toronto, from which it was sent directly to LA. Loved it! Don't see why the negativity.

  11. dandler rosa says:

    high life reality!

  12. Corbie says:

    This is a very crowded exhibit. I think LACMA could have done a better job organizing the crowds by constructing a better exhibit. The work itself is fun and enjoyable especially if you are a fan of Burton’s movies, as I am (okay more Beetlejuice & Ed Wood than later stuff). However I found that all the monster drawings seemed to bleed together at one point. He does not show much growth as an artist. I’m not really sure he has a dark world view, it’s more sweet and mundane than that. The exhibit was light-hearted Disney fun, perfect for the whole family- I really wish I could take my 13-year-old niece. Burton’s work makes me smile

    but I don’t think he is a genius. If you think he’s a great artistic genius you should go see some more art

    exhibits.

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