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The morbid world of Tim Burton

Jochen Kürten / kbm
August 17, 2015

From "Beetlejuice" to "Frankenweenie," cinema-goers know Tim Burton for his eerie yet quirky take on things. His lesser known artwork, which often serves as the basis for his films, is now on show in Germany.

Tim Burton at the Max Ernst Museum in Brühl, Copyright: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Becker
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Becker

After traveling through cultural hubs like New York, Toronto, Melbourne, Prague and Tokyo, the exhibition "The World of Tim Burton" has landed in a tiny town on the Rhine River: Brühl.

But that's no coincidence. Brühl is the birthplace of surrealist artist Max Ernst and home to the Max Ernst Museum - and Burton's works fit right into the surrealist tradition.

Max Ernst listened to his heart: A pivotal characteristic of surrealist art is seeking out subconscious emotions and thoughts and expressing them. From painters Salvador Dalí and René Magritte to filmmakers like Luis Buñuel and Man Ray, surrealists from art and film trusted their feelings, and constantly wanted to be surprised by what would come to the surface.

Burton: the 'morbid-fantastical eccentric'

The 56-year-old filmmaker came to Brühl himself on Sunday (16.08.2015) to open the exhibition. Nevertheless, he told the press he had mixed feelings about the show, saying it felt like he was "opening his closet and showing people his dirty laundry."

Burton started his career as an illustrator with Disney, but quickly found that the innocent world of Mickey Mouse, Sleeping Beauty and Ariel was too constrained for his quirky imagination. He went on to create his own fantasy figures - including the sewn-mouthed puppets he's perhaps best known for - that mix animal and human, laughter and fear.

Visitors to the Max Ernst Museum in Brühl can look forward to "a journey into the head of the morbid-fantastical eccentric," summed up museum director Achim Sommer.

"The World of Tim Burton" runs through January 3, 2016.