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The first and most significant retrospective of filmmaker and artist Tim Burton will be presented at ACMI in a brand new exhibition as part of Melbourne Winter Masterpieces 2010, and will explore the full scale of Burton’s career, as director, concept artist illustrator and photographer, through hundreds of artworks that spectacularly illuminate the creative vision behind Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Sweeney Todd.

Tracing Burton’s visual imagination from his earliest childhood drawings through his mature work in film, the exhibition brings together over 700 examples of rarely or never-before-seen drawings, paintings, photographs, storyboards, moving-image works, puppets, maquettes, costumes, and cinematic ephemera, and includes an extensive film series spanning his 27-year career.

Tim Burton - Corpse Bride

ACMI Board President, John Thwaites said that ACMI was attracting international attention through its exhibition programs. “We are absolutely delighted to be partnering the Victorian Government, through the Victorian Major Events Company, and MoMA to bring this extraordinary exhibition to Australia,” Thwaites said. “ACMI has an international reputation for presenting world-class exhibitions in Melbourne and we're excited to be working with MoMA and Tim Burton to showcase his career in such spectacular fashion through this world-first exhibition.”

ACMI Director Tony Sweeney said the exhibition includes little-known drawings, paintings, and sculptures created in the spirit of contemporary Pop Surrealism, alongside works from conception to production from Burton’s short and feature films.

"inspirational artistry"

“Burton’s amazing catalogue of work, and his inspirational artistry has garnered him an international audience of fans and he has influenced a generation of young artists across the moving image art spectrum,” said Sweeney.

The largest exhibition to ever be presented in ACMI’s Gallery 1 has been curated in direct collaboration with Burton and features artworks and objects drawn from his personal archive, as well as studio archives and the private collections.

Also featured are his student and early non-professional films; his long-unseen television adaptation Hansel and Gretel (1983); examples of his work for the flash animation internet series The World of Stainboy (2000); a selection of the artist’s oversized Polaroid prints; graphic art and texts for non-film projects, like The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories (1997) and Tim Burton’s Tragic Toys for Girls and Boys (2003) collectible figure series; and art from a number of early unrealised projects.

MoMA Assistant Curator and exhibition organiser Ron Magliozzi said “There is no other living filmmaker possessing Tim Burton’s level of accomplishment and reputation whose full body of work has been so well hidden from public view. Seeing so much that was previously inaccessible in a museum context should serve to fuel renewed appreciation and fresh appraisal of this much-admired artist.”

"follows the course of Burton’s career"

The exhibition follows the course of Burton’s career, with childhood ephemera, juvenilia, and amateur short films from his youth in Burbank, California; cartoons and drawings from his time at California Institute of the Arts; and examples of his first professional work at The Walt Disney Studios. Burton’s artistic output includes shorts Vincent (1982) and Frankenweenie (1984); and 15 feature films including Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985), Beetlejuice (1988), Batman (1989), Edward Scissorhands (1990), Batman Returns (1992), Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Ed Wood (1994), Mars Attacks! (1996), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Planet of the Apes (2001), Big Fish (2003), Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (2005), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Sweeney Todd (2007) and Alice in Wonderland (2010); as well as writing and web projects such as Stainboy (2000).


Tim Burton will open at ACMI on 24 June and run until 10 October 2010, with Burton in attendance. To accompany the exhibition ACMI will curate a film season and specialist public and education programs for all ages, which will be announced at a later date.

Tim Burton is the second Melbourne Winter Masterpiece exhibition at ACMI after Pixar: 20 years of Animation, which broke international attendance records in 2007. Tim Burton will directly follow Dennis Hopper and the New Hollywood, another Australian exclusive exhibition at ACMI which premieres on 12 November 2009.

Published October 29, 2009

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Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter - Sweeney Todd

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