Burton Selects: From LACMA's Collection

Ahmanson Building, Level 2
April 16, 2011–November 13, 2011

In conjunction with the exhibition, Tim Burton, LACMA invited the filmmaker to fill a gallery with works of his choosing from the permanent collection. Tim Burton Selects brings together an idiosyncratic array of graphic works chosen by Burton in consultation with the curatorial staff. 

From childhood to the present day, Tim Burton has expressed himself through drawing. Since the early Renaissance, drawings have been considered to be especially revealing of the artist’s individual genius and style. Prints, by extension, can distill the hand-drawn line to its essence and reproduce it for mass distribution. Certain periods of art history have especially strong resonance with Burton’s vision. Mannerist artists of the mid-sixteenth century reacted against the orderly grace of the Renaissance with exaggerated, stylized figural concoctions. At the turn of the twentieth century, Symbolists created hallucinatory worlds filled with outsized eyeballs and insects. Japanese art has traditionally featured ghosts and demons to represent irrationality, while in Mexican culture the skeleton has both spiritual and political significance. Above all, German Expressionism, which flourished in the 1920s and 30s, brought intuition and anxiety to the fore. The stark, powerful prints of the Expressionist era seem to presage the haunted interiors and emotive creatures found in Burton’s feature films.

Image: Otto Dix, Illusion Art, 1922, The Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies, © Otto Dix Estate / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.

Tim Burton Picks "Burtonesque" Works from the Permanent Collection

During the past few years, we LACMA curators have been willingly outsourcing some parts of our jobs—to artists. When we invite artists to curate our collections, we don’t know exactly what to expect. Artists look at art differently than curators do, encouraging us take a new look at old favorites, pull things out of storage, and put apples together with oranges. Our latest guest curator is Tim Burton, who is also the subject of a major retrospective exhibition opening on May 29. In anticipation of that show, we’ve assembled Burton Selects: From LACMA’s Collection, on view now.