Tim Burton As Artist

November 20, 2009

I have always enjoyed Tim Burton’s movies — and I am looking forward with anticipation to his “Alice” — but not in any fanatical way: they often have a conceptual similarity about them that detracts for me.   Besides being a filmmaker, Burton is also an artist and the NY Museum of Modern Art has honoured him with an “expansive” retrospective.  Ken Johnson, the NY Times art critic, is not impressed.

Given the tremendous visual appeal of Mr. Burton’s movies, you would hope that “Tim Burton,” the Museum of Modern Art’s expansive retrospective of his noncinematic art, would be equally exciting. Alas, it is a letdown. Focused mainly on hundreds of drawings dating from his teenage years to the present and including paintings, sculptures, photographs and a smattering of short films on flat screens, it is an entertaining show and a must for film buffs and Burton fans. To see the raw material from which the movies evolved is certainly illuminating. But there is a sameness to all Mr. Burton’s two- and three-dimensional output that makes for a monotonous viewing experience.

That’s a shame, but I am not altogether surprised.