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Tim Burton's Monsters Take the MoMA

The Museum of Modern Art

November 30, 2009

Tim Burton. (American, b. 1958) Untitled (Creature Series). 1992. Acrylic on canvas 7 × 5″ (17.8 × 12.7 cm). Private collection. © 2009 Tim Burton


Burton’s professional career blossomed with the success of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985), Beetlejuice (1988), Batman (1989), and Edward Scissorhands (1990). By the time his sixth feature was released, Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), which he developed and produced, his name was listed above the title. In this phase of his creative life, a number of rewarding professional collaborations, including those with costume designer Colleen Atwood, special effects master Stan Winston, stop-motion puppet craftsmen Ian Mackinnon and Peter Saunders, and the character design studio of Carlos Grangel served to bring his vision to the screen.

The exhibition contains significant examples of their work, supplemented by important studio loans from the Disney, Warner Bros., and Twentieth Century Fox archives. Among them are props such as the sinister life-sized animatronic puppets from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), the Sandworm jaws from Beetlejuice (1988), and original puppets and concept art from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (2005). These works are joined by costumes from Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, and Sleepy Hollow, including the original Catwoman suit and the original Edward Scissorhands costume; props include the Penguin’s baby carriage from Batman Returns and severed-heads from Mars Attacks!.

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