ARTSY: Tim Burton At The MOMA

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NEW YORK TIMES: Given the tremendous visual appeal of Mr. Burton’s movies, you would hope that “Tim Burton,” the Museum of Modern Art’s expansive retrospective of his noncinematic art, would be equally exciting. Alas, it is a letdown. Focused mainly on hundreds of drawings dating from his teenage years to the present and including paintings, sculptures, photographs and a smattering of short films on flat screens, it is an entertaining show and a must for film buffs and Burton fans. To see the raw material from which the movies evolved is certainly illuminating. But there is a sameness to all Mr. Burton’s two- and three-dimensional output that makes for a monotonous viewing experience. Since Mr. Burton hit his stride in drawing around 1980, little has changed. Amalgamating the styles of Edward Gorey, Ralph Steadman, Edward Sorel and other cartoon expressionists into his own less-than-original Victorian-Gothic-Grotesque, Mr. Burton has created countless cartoons resembling illustrations for cutely perverse greeting cards. Bizarre monsters are a favorite motif, but what is most remarkable is Mr. Burton’s ability to generate variations on the archetype of the freakishly gifted but wounded child. From Stainboy, a superhero whose only power is leaving stains, to the dangerously dexterous Edward Scissorhands — his most poignant creation — his gallery of endearingly pathetic juvenile weirdos is impressive. But it also reflects a state of arrested psychological and artistic development. Adult sexuality, for example, almost never rears its ugly head, and despite Mr. Burton’s lifelong drawing and doodling habit, he never ventures into unexpected formal or technical territory. It is when the drawing ideas are translated to the screen that the magic happens.  MORE

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