Enter Guillermo del Toro’s Dark and Curious Dreamscapes at LACMA

He wants us to "love monsters in our lives."

Guillermo del Toro’s unique vision, which birthed cinematic universes such as Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy, inspired the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to feature the filmmaker’s work in an upcoming show. The last time they worked with a high-profile director, Tim Burton, it was an enormous hit in 2011.

Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters,” (August 1–November 27, 2016) takes its audience on a journey through the Mexican director’s creative process. With over 500 objects on view, the exhibition offers elaborately illustrated pages from his notebooks, three-dimensional recreations of his monsters, and a host of artifacts and artworks that he commissioned during his three-decade career.

Britt Salvesen, the show’s curator, explained to artnet News in a phone conversation that when it comes to art, “[del Toro’s] thinking is very much based in drawing and he keeps notebooks,” she explained. “He’s also an enthusiastic and voracious collector. That’s the majority component of his show: objects from his collection. These are works that he lives with in his ever-expanding Bleak House, which is really a cabin of curiosities. He wants to live with them. He’s having a bit of separation anxiety right now.”

Page from Guillermo del Toro's notebook. Courtesy of the artist via LACMA.

Page from Guillermo del Toro’s notebook. Courtesy of the artist via LACMA.

“He’s especially interested in Victorian and turn of the 20th-century illustration,” Salvesen explains. To no surprise, the filmmaker takes his cue from masters of symbolism and surrealism. Among the artists del Toro has collected are sculptors Mike Hill and Thomas Kuebler, both of whom specialize in three-dimensional renderings of life-sized monsters.

Guillermo del Toro's collection. Courtesy of the artist via LACMA.

Guillermo del Toro’s collection. Courtesy of the artist via LACMA.

That Burton was given high-profile museum recognition rendered him, for a time, an exceptional outlier in an otherwise unforgiving art world. But with del Toro entering the limelight, one wonders if such divisions between cinema culture and high art persist in this contemporary moment.

“Guillermo talks a lot about wanting to ignore the hierarchy that separates high and low, and wants to traverse that seamlessly in his own work and collecting,” Salvesen explained.

Guillermo del Toro's collection. Courtesy of the artist via LACMA.

Guillermo del Toro’s collection. Courtesy of the artist via LACMA.

As del Toro himself explains in a statement: “This exhibition presents a small fraction of the things that have moved me, inspired me, and consoled me as I transit through life. It’s a devotional sampling of the enormous love that is required to create, maintain, and love monsters in our lives.”

Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters” will run at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) from August 1, 2016 through November 27, 2016. The show will subsequently travel to the Minneapolis Institute of Art and to the Art Gallery of Ontario.


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