Pop Culture

Tim Burton — the artist — is now on display

Director Tim Burton has become a household name thanks to his highly stylized and hugely popular movies such as “Batman” and “Beetlejuice.” While fans may say his films are works of art, few would expect to see Burton’s imagery displayed alongside Monet’s “Water Lilies” and Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” However, from now until April, the Museum of Modern Art in New York is doing just that, with a major career retrospective of Burton’s art and movies.

On display are more than 700 pieces — paintings, sketches and sculptures, including rare concept art — from Burton’s films and abandoned projects. However, this is not an average trip to the museum. The first thing many visitors will see is a 21-foot inflatable statue called “Balloon Boy,” a blue Frankenstein-esque creature with multiple eyes and an oversized head. The entrance to the gallery has the feel of a mad funhouse, or a fun madhouse, as guests walk through the mouth of a demented monster into a hallway inspired by Burton’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

In fact, it was seeing that 2005 film that convinced MoMA’s curators to create this retrospective. “It happened at the moment when Johnny Depp has walked right to the end of the long brick hall. Suddenly, he throws open a door into a psychedelic pop-inspired world of color,” said assistant curator Ron Magliozzi, who dreamed up the exhibit.

Magliozzi and his team conducted an exhaustive search to find the right pieces that best tell Burton’s story as an artist.

“I don’t even know where they found some of that real early stuff,” said Burton, who sat down with a small group of reporters to discuss the retrospective. “That was the first time I’d ever seen stuff since, you know, some stuff since I was a child. So it was, you know, amazing and disturbing.”

Found solace in film early onIndeed, among the otherwise fantastical collection are some fairly mundane objects from his youth, including old homework assignments. Burton jokes that one paper entitled “Humor in America,” which earned a B-plus, “was a high point.” This early work is a section of the gallery called “Surviving Burbank,” Burton’s hometown.

  • Slideshow Photos

    Jemal Countess / Getty Images North America

    Image: Media Preview Of The Museum Of Modern Art: Tim Burton

    Tim Burton: A retrospective

    A collection of movie stills, drawings and other artwork produced by the famed director is on display at the New York Museum of Modern Art.

  • Image: Media Preview Of The Museum Of Modern Art: Tim Burton

    Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A cinematic artist

    Artist, illustrator, photographer, writer and director Tim Burton appears at New York's Museum of Modern Art on November 17 to help launch his career retrospective featuring drawings, paintings, puppets and films.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A jaw-dropping entrance

    The show of Burton's works, which runs at MoMA until April 26, shows artwork generated during the conception and production of the director's films, pieces from unrealized projects, student art, his early non-professional films and work for non-film endeavors.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Tim Burton, Danny DeVito

    Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A close-knit group

    Joining Burton at the museum was his girlfriend, actress Helena Bonham Carter, second from left, frequent collaborator Johnny Depp, left, and actor Danny DeVito, right.

    AP / AP
  • Image: Media Preview Of The Museum Of Modern Art: Tim Burton

    Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A wide-eyed view

    These figures, including Stain Boy, center background, and Robot Boy, right, are part of Tim Burton exhibit's at the Museum of Modern Art.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Media Preview Of The Museum Of Modern Art: Tim Burton

    Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Up in arms

    This sculpture, which looks like many of the dark, menacing characters in Burton's films, is one of the more than 700 works of art on display.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Like minds

    Tim Burton on set with actor Johnny Depp, who frequently works with Burton, during the filiming of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" in 2007. The movie is about a man unjustly sent to prison by a lecherous judge who vows revenge.

    DreamWorks / DreamWorks
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Take that!

    Johnny Depp starred as the title character in Burton's "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street." The director often has taken classic tales and put his own dark spin on them.

    Leah Gallo / Leah Gallo
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Romance on the job

    Bonham Carter and Burton discuss a scene on the set of "Sweeney Todd." The British actress has been in several Burton films, starting with "Planet of the Apes." They have been a couple since working on the 2001 film and now have two children together.

    Paramount / Paramount
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Inspiration for exhibit

    It was while watching Burton's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (2005) that MoMA assistant curator Ron Magliozzi dreamed up the exhibit.

    Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture / Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A director and his 'Bride'

    Tim Burton on the set of the movie "Corpse Bride," which he co-directed in 2005.

    Derek Frey / Derek Frey
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    An unlikely match

    "Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride," an animated movie is set in a 19th-century European village, tells the story of young Victor, who is whisked away to the underworld and wed to a mysterious Corpse Bride, while his real bride, Victoria, waits bereft in the land of the living.

    Warner Bros. Pictures / Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A different 'Planet'

    Tim Burton directed the remake of "Planet of the Apes" (2001), which starred, from left, Helena Bonham Carter, Mark Wahlberg and Paul Giamatti.

    20th Century-Fox / 20th Century-Fox
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A sharp image

    Johnny Depp stars as the title character in "Edward Scissorhands" (1990). Burton got the idea for the film from a drawing he did as a teenager. This film is reportedly the director's favorite of his own work. It was also Depp's first with Burton; he has since starred in several Burton movies.

    Twentieth Century Fox / Twentieth Century Fox
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A cheerful scene

    Deep Roy, left, and Danny DeVito, center-right, appear in Burton's "Big Fish," a 2003 movie about a boy, Edward Bloom, who realizes that in order for him to grow he must leave home and explore the world. And thus, an improbable and mythic journey begins.

    Columbia Pictures / Columbia Pictures
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Getting a closer look

    Johnny Depp also starred as Ichabod Crane in Burton's 1999 take on "Sleepy Hollow." In the movie, Crane is a discredited professor who is exiled to Sleepy Hollow because of his outrageous theories.

    Paramount Pictures / Paramount Pictures
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    An homage to another director

    In another Burton movie, Johnny Depp plays the title role in the 1994 film "Ed Wood," which tells the story of low-budget Hollywood director Edward D. Wood, Jr., whose notoriously "bad" cult films include "Glen or Glenda?" and "Plan 9 from Outer Space."

    Touchstone Pictures. / Touchstone Pictures.
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Not a happy face

    This shows an image from "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas" storyboard from 1993.

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A 'Christmas' affair

    This movie still from "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993) shows Sally and Jack. The movie is about Jack Skellington, aka the Pumpkin King, who is bored with his job and feels that life in Halloweenland lacks meaning. He stumbles upon Christmastown and promptly decides to make the Yuletide his own.

    Touchstone / Touchstone
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    No joke

    Jack Nicholson played The Joker in Burton's 1990 film "Batman."

    Warner Bros. / Warner Bros.
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    An unwelcome guest

    Michael Keaton stars in "Beetlejuice," directed by Tim Burton in 1988. The movie is about a dead couple who attempt to scare a modern family out of their house with the help of a "bio-exorcist."

    Warner Bros. / Warner Bros.
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Save the planet

    This is Burton's watercolor and pastel drawing of a Martian that looks very much like those that appear in his 1995 film "Mars Attacks!"

    Warner Bros. / Warner Bros.
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    It all started on paper

    This 1990 sketch of the character Edward Scissorhands is one of the many artworks on display.

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    From another planet

    The Martian Girl and Jack Nicholson in the 1996 movie, "Mars Attacks!" The film, directed by Burton, is about aliens who invade earth and pretend to be peaceful.

    Warner Bros. / Warner Bros.
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A 'Big Adventure'

    Burton made his directorial debut in 1985's "Pee-wee's Big Adventure," starring Paul Reubens. If you look closely at the film, you'll see the director in a cameo just before Pee-wee enters the fortune teller's studio.

    Warner Bros. / Warner Bros.
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Feeling blue

    This sketch comes from Burton's 1997 children's poetry book "The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories." Some of the characters in this book would later appear in a Flash series called "The World of Stain Boy."

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Going at it

    Another sketch from 1982–1984 that would inspire stories for Burton's children's book, "The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories."

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A strange land

    This 1982 sketch would inspire "Frankenweenie," a live-action film Burton released in 1984.

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    The big staredown

    "The World of Stainboy," written and directed by Burton, was released in 2000. He drew this image with pen and ink, watercolor wash and colored pencil.

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Table for one

    Burton's 1997 painting “Blue Girl with Wine” looks like a Picasso portrait of Sally from “Nightmare Before Christmas." The painting is in the third part of the MoMA exhibit, where Burton's film work takes center stage.

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Profiling it

    "The Green Man" (1996-1998) was created with oil and acrylic paint.

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A haunting image

    This image shows another Burton image "Untitled (Blue Girl with Skull)" (1992–1999).

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    An ahhhh moment

    This Burton piece, produced in 1982, was done using pen and ink, marker, and watercolor wash on paper.

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    When sea meets land

    This Burton untitled piece, included in his Romeo and Juliet collection (1981–1984) was made with pen and ink, marker, and colored pencil on paper.

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Let's call this one "Six"

    This piece, created with pen and ink, marker, and watercolor wash on paper, was produced in 1982.

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Open wide

    Burton drew this image in 1983 while working at Disney. None of his work ended up making it into the studio's first PG-rated animated feature "The Black Cauldron."

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Musical influence

    The artist-director shows his musical taste in this drawing called "Untitled (Ramone)."

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    An homage

    This pen-and-ink watercolor portrait called Untitled (Picasso Woman is among the many works on display at MoMa.

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Shades of 'Beetlejuice'

    Burton created this pen-and-ink collage, called Untitled (Trick or Treat), in 1980.

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA

Burton felt alienated from an early age but he found solace in film, specifically classic monster movies such as “Frankenstein” and “Creature from the Black Lagoon.”

“Those movies kind of helped,” he said. “Feeling like, well you look strange, people think you’re strange, but you’re not.”

Burton said he was not a very verbal child, but he liked to draw. After high school, he enrolled at California Institute of the Arts and was eventually hired to be an animator at the Disney Studios. Though Burton said he grew up on Disney cartoons like everyone else, his real inspiration was stop-motion pioneer Ray Harryhausen, who set a new standard for special effects with films like “Jason and the Argonauts.” Burton said Harryhausen “was the one that really, kinda sold the deal for me.”

‘The dark ages’ at DisneyDisney hired Burton in 1979, at a time when the animation department was trying to create a dark movie to win back the kinds of teenage audiences who had flocked to “Star Wars.” Burton’s gothic sensibility seemed a natural fit for Disney’s first PG-rated animated feature “The Black Cauldron.”

“Clearly, ‘Black Cauldron’ was a project that was a real Tim Burton project. It was about this cauldron that produces armies of evil,” Magliozzi said. “It really inspired Tim. I think he produced 350 pieces of concept [art], not a single one of which was used in the film. It was just too weird and too strange.”

Burton calls this period at Disney “the dark ages” and at the time, he was clearly frustrated by the fact that his work was not being used. However, it led to a creative explosion where he blossomed as an artist. This is evidenced by the second part of the exhibit called “Beautifying Burbank.” Here, museumgoers can see Burton’s macabre humor and expressionistic style take shape.

From artist to directorIt was also during this time when Burton the artist became Burton the director. While still at Disney, he made a few short films: “Vincent,” a stop-motion cartoon inspired by Vincent Price, a live-action movie Frankenweenie” and his rarely-seen version of “Hansel and Gretel,” which was banished from the Disney Channel after only one airing.

In the final third of the gallery titled “Beyond Burbank,” Burton’s film work takes center stage. Batman’s mask, Sweeney Todd’s razors and Ed Wood’s angora sweater are just some of the props on display — as well stop-motion figures from “Corpse Bride.” They are mixed in with some amazing art, such as a paintings titled “Blue Girl with Wine,” which looks like a Picasso portrait of Sally from “Nightmare Before Christmas.” A small concept sketch of Edward Scissorhands recalls the iconic painting “Scream” as created by a cartoonist.

Fans can look at doodles from Burton’s sketchbooks still attached to the original spiral pad; they can only try to imagine what else may lurk on the other pages. “When you see one drawing in a frame, you'll know there are probably 30 or 40 other drawings, ink, pencil, watercolor wash, whatever behind those other pages,” Magliozzi said.

His art seems to be influenced by everything from expressionistic painters like Edvard Munch and Otto Dix to popular illustrators like Maurice Sendak and Dr. Seuss. It’s the mix of high and low art that makes Burton’s work so distinctive — and so popular.

A dark spin on classic storiesThis retrospective is expected to draw in many visitors who do not normally go to museums.

“It’s very accessible, very relatable, great sense of humor, great sense of fun and he draws a huge crowd,” said Dave Howe, president of Syfy, the cable network sponsoring the event. “He’s an amazing artist and amazing visionary and I think he embodies and epitomizes what we as a brand and a network want to do, which is to have people imagine greater.” (Syfy is owned by NBC Universal; msnbc.com is a joint venture between NBC and Microsoft.)

  • Slideshow Photos

    Jemal Countess / Getty Images North America

    Image: Media Preview Of The Museum Of Modern Art: Tim Burton

    Tim Burton: A retrospective

    A collection of movie stills, drawings and other artwork produced by the famed director is on display at the New York Museum of Modern Art.

  • Image: Media Preview Of The Museum Of Modern Art: Tim Burton

    Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A cinematic artist

    Artist, illustrator, photographer, writer and director Tim Burton appears at New York's Museum of Modern Art on November 17 to help launch his career retrospective featuring drawings, paintings, puppets and films.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A jaw-dropping entrance

    The show of Burton's works, which runs at MoMA until April 26, shows artwork generated during the conception and production of the director's films, pieces from unrealized projects, student art, his early non-professional films and work for non-film endeavors.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Tim Burton, Danny DeVito

    Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A close-knit group

    Joining Burton at the museum was his girlfriend, actress Helena Bonham Carter, second from left, frequent collaborator Johnny Depp, left, and actor Danny DeVito, right.

    AP / AP
  • Image: Media Preview Of The Museum Of Modern Art: Tim Burton

    Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A wide-eyed view

    These figures, including Stain Boy, center background, and Robot Boy, right, are part of Tim Burton exhibit's at the Museum of Modern Art.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Media Preview Of The Museum Of Modern Art: Tim Burton

    Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Up in arms

    This sculpture, which looks like many of the dark, menacing characters in Burton's films, is one of the more than 700 works of art on display.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Like minds

    Tim Burton on set with actor Johnny Depp, who frequently works with Burton, during the filiming of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" in 2007. The movie is about a man unjustly sent to prison by a lecherous judge who vows revenge.

    DreamWorks / DreamWorks
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Take that!

    Johnny Depp starred as the title character in Burton's "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street." The director often has taken classic tales and put his own dark spin on them.

    Leah Gallo / Leah Gallo
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Romance on the job

    Bonham Carter and Burton discuss a scene on the set of "Sweeney Todd." The British actress has been in several Burton films, starting with "Planet of the Apes." They have been a couple since working on the 2001 film and now have two children together.

    Paramount / Paramount
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Inspiration for exhibit

    It was while watching Burton's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (2005) that MoMA assistant curator Ron Magliozzi dreamed up the exhibit.

    Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture / Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A director and his 'Bride'

    Tim Burton on the set of the movie "Corpse Bride," which he co-directed in 2005.

    Derek Frey / Derek Frey
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    An unlikely match

    "Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride," an animated movie is set in a 19th-century European village, tells the story of young Victor, who is whisked away to the underworld and wed to a mysterious Corpse Bride, while his real bride, Victoria, waits bereft in the land of the living.

    Warner Bros. Pictures / Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A different 'Planet'

    Tim Burton directed the remake of "Planet of the Apes" (2001), which starred, from left, Helena Bonham Carter, Mark Wahlberg and Paul Giamatti.

    20th Century-Fox / 20th Century-Fox
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A sharp image

    Johnny Depp stars as the title character in "Edward Scissorhands" (1990). Burton got the idea for the film from a drawing he did as a teenager. This film is reportedly the director's favorite of his own work. It was also Depp's first with Burton; he has since starred in several Burton movies.

    Twentieth Century Fox / Twentieth Century Fox
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A cheerful scene

    Deep Roy, left, and Danny DeVito, center-right, appear in Burton's "Big Fish," a 2003 movie about a boy, Edward Bloom, who realizes that in order for him to grow he must leave home and explore the world. And thus, an improbable and mythic journey begins.

    Columbia Pictures / Columbia Pictures
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Getting a closer look

    Johnny Depp also starred as Ichabod Crane in Burton's 1999 take on "Sleepy Hollow." In the movie, Crane is a discredited professor who is exiled to Sleepy Hollow because of his outrageous theories.

    Paramount Pictures / Paramount Pictures
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    An homage to another director

    In another Burton movie, Johnny Depp plays the title role in the 1994 film "Ed Wood," which tells the story of low-budget Hollywood director Edward D. Wood, Jr., whose notoriously "bad" cult films include "Glen or Glenda?" and "Plan 9 from Outer Space."

    Touchstone Pictures. / Touchstone Pictures.
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Not a happy face

    This shows an image from "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas" storyboard from 1993.

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A 'Christmas' affair

    This movie still from "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993) shows Sally and Jack. The movie is about Jack Skellington, aka the Pumpkin King, who is bored with his job and feels that life in Halloweenland lacks meaning. He stumbles upon Christmastown and promptly decides to make the Yuletide his own.

    Touchstone / Touchstone
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    No joke

    Jack Nicholson played The Joker in Burton's 1990 film "Batman."

    Warner Bros. / Warner Bros.
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    An unwelcome guest

    Michael Keaton stars in "Beetlejuice," directed by Tim Burton in 1988. The movie is about a dead couple who attempt to scare a modern family out of their house with the help of a "bio-exorcist."

    Warner Bros. / Warner Bros.
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Save the planet

    This is Burton's watercolor and pastel drawing of a Martian that looks very much like those that appear in his 1995 film "Mars Attacks!"

    Warner Bros. / Warner Bros.
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    It all started on paper

    This 1990 sketch of the character Edward Scissorhands is one of the many artworks on display.

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    From another planet

    The Martian Girl and Jack Nicholson in the 1996 movie, "Mars Attacks!" The film, directed by Burton, is about aliens who invade earth and pretend to be peaceful.

    Warner Bros. / Warner Bros.
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A 'Big Adventure'

    Burton made his directorial debut in 1985's "Pee-wee's Big Adventure," starring Paul Reubens. If you look closely at the film, you'll see the director in a cameo just before Pee-wee enters the fortune teller's studio.

    Warner Bros. / Warner Bros.
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Feeling blue

    This sketch comes from Burton's 1997 children's poetry book "The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories." Some of the characters in this book would later appear in a Flash series called "The World of Stain Boy."

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Going at it

    Another sketch from 1982–1984 that would inspire stories for Burton's children's book, "The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories."

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A strange land

    This 1982 sketch would inspire "Frankenweenie," a live-action film Burton released in 1984.

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    The big staredown

    "The World of Stainboy," written and directed by Burton, was released in 2000. He drew this image with pen and ink, watercolor wash and colored pencil.

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Table for one

    Burton's 1997 painting “Blue Girl with Wine” looks like a Picasso portrait of Sally from “Nightmare Before Christmas." The painting is in the third part of the MoMA exhibit, where Burton's film work takes center stage.

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Profiling it

    "The Green Man" (1996-1998) was created with oil and acrylic paint.

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    A haunting image

    This image shows another Burton image "Untitled (Blue Girl with Skull)" (1992–1999).

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    An ahhhh moment

    This Burton piece, produced in 1982, was done using pen and ink, marker, and watercolor wash on paper.

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    When sea meets land

    This Burton untitled piece, included in his Romeo and Juliet collection (1981–1984) was made with pen and ink, marker, and colored pencil on paper.

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Let's call this one "Six"

    This piece, created with pen and ink, marker, and watercolor wash on paper, was produced in 1982.

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Open wide

    Burton drew this image in 1983 while working at Disney. None of his work ended up making it into the studio's first PG-rated animated feature "The Black Cauldron."

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Musical influence

    The artist-director shows his musical taste in this drawing called "Untitled (Ramone)."

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    An homage

    This pen-and-ink watercolor portrait called Untitled (Picasso Woman is among the many works on display at MoMa.

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA
  • Tim Burton: A retrospective

    of

    Shades of 'Beetlejuice'

    Burton created this pen-and-ink collage, called Untitled (Trick or Treat), in 1980.

    Tim Burton via MOMA / Tim Burton via MOMA

In fact, Burton’s approach to filmmaking has been about imagination, or more precisely re-imagination. He has spent his career taking popular tales from his youth and remaking them in his own vision. He has paid homage to B-movies he loved as a child with “Ed Wood” and “Mars Attacks!” and he put his own dark spin on classic stories like “Planet of the Apes” and “Sweeney Todd.”

His next movie “Alice in Wonderland,” due out in March, promises to be another signature Burton film. In addition to being a unique take on a well-known story, it also stars his frequent muses Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, Burton’s longtime partner.

It will also be his first film shot in 3-D. “I just thought ‘Alice’ in 3-D was a good mixture of mediums,” Burton said. “With the right material, it draws you into the world more, a bit more.”

Burton is busy putting the final touches on “Alice in Wonderland.” He only has a brief opportunity to enjoy the MoMA retrospective before heading back to the work on the film.

When asked about the upcoming film, all he would say is “Still working on it! In fact, I shouldn’t be here right now.”

However, for those who can’t wait until March for ‘Alice,’ Burton’s own adventures in wonderland are on full display right now in New York.

TOP