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Everything Tim Burton

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Tim Burton fans came out in droves to the opening of his retrospective yesterday at MoMA. Dressed in red and black stripes and lace and crazy hats – even painted on stitches – they were hard to miss. And with the massive collection of drawings, set pieces and video I doubt they left disappointed. To get to the actual exhibit you have to walk through the mouth of one of Burton’s classic freak show creations, down a hallway lit only by TV screens playing his animated series “The World of Stainboy.” At the end of the hallway is a dark room lit by black-lights where some of his glow-in-the-dark pieces are on display.

The rest of the exhibition continues in a more conventional gallery space, beginning with the homemade gag books of Burton’s childhood and ending in what look like pre-production sketches for his next film, ALICE IN WONDERLAND. There is a lot to take in, including a life-size Johnny Depp in full EDWARD SCISSORHANDS regalia, but most striking are his sketches. I’m not surprised that when it comes to storyboarding Burton doesn’t take the normal route and dash off a few throw-away pages for in-scene reference. His process is much more involved and often includes watercoloring. Individual characters are drawn over and over again, in different locations and clothing until he lands upon the right mood. To see the evolution of the Edward Scissorhands character on paper, the painstaking redrawing of the knife and scissor attachments right next the life-size finished product is really amazing – and that’s only a small part of the show.

“Tim Burton” opens on November 22 and runs until April 26, 2010.