Tim Burton exhibition in Seoul

3 Feb

We recently went to the very popular Tim Burton exhibition at the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA), Jung-gu, Seoul. Tim Burton is the director and mastermind behind many popular feature films such as Beetle JuiceCharlie and the Chocolate FactoryThe Nightmare Before ChristmasCorpse Bride, Alice and Wonderland and many more. The exhibition, that started it’s international tour in New York in 2009, had an incredibly vast amount of Burton’s work. It had costumes from his most popular films like Batman Returns on display as well as also giving you the opportunity to watch his lesser known film pieces such as Stain Boy and Victor, which I was totally unaware of before the exhibition visit. It also had many of his paintings, drawings, posters and models of popular characters like Jack Skellington, The Pumpkin King.

What I especially liked about the exhibit was that you were able to follow his work from the very beginning. It showed short mini-films he’d made without sound, which he started making when he was 13, making it possible to follow his career from the very early stages. There was even a letter on display from the Disney headquarters in response to a young, Burton in Highschool. He’d sent some paintings for some ideas he had for a children’s story. It was basically a rejection letter but it was positive and very complimentary. The letter also said it was too similar to the Dr. Seuss range, which Burton later in life credits as inspiration along with Roald Dahl, and it encouraged him to continue and go to Art College to further his style and skill, which he did.

There was an incredible amount to see, but unfortunately we had very little time to see it. We didn’t realise before we went, but we had to wait well over an hour just to get in. We queued and paid for tickets which then allowed us to get us another ticket, which had a number on. We then had to wait for the screen to display our number. By the time our number appeared on the screen we were only able to spend a little over half hour to view the work before we had to head back to the bus station, as we’d already booked our coach back home. It was ridiculously busy too, so being able to see the work at a leisurely pace just wasn’t possible, instead you had to shuffle along with the crowd. So if your planning on going yourself, (it’s on until the 14th of April), and I’d recommend it even if your not usually a gallery goer, I’d advise that you go on a weekday if possible and be prepared for the wait.

There are many pieces and sections of the exhibition I scarcely had time to properly look at due to the short amount of time we had, yet it was still very interesting. Before my visit, I naively had no idea how much creative input Burton had into the film’s, outside of directing them. Every little initial idea was documented in the form of one of his seemingly insignificant doodles on a restaurant napkin before it progressed into drawing, a wild and colourful painting, then a story board, and eventually a film. I had recognised before that all his films had that same Burton-esque, Gothic, slightly macabre quirkiness but hadn’t realised that he was an artist and illustrator in the typical sense too.


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