Guillermo Del Toro: At Home with Monsters

Friday, August 5, 2016

On display until November 27th, "At Home with Monsters" is an exhibition at LACMA that showcases Guillermo del Toro's extensive collection of horror ephemera, fine art, and oddities mixed with various costumes and highlight reels from del Toro's visually captivating films.

Del Toro is one of many artists who collects weird...stuff.  Most notably in the art of collecting bizarre objects is Joe Coleman, who will have a similar show at the Museum of Morbid Anatomy in the near future that showcases the collection housed in his famous "Odditorium."  Del Toro's sanctuary also bears a snappy name, lovingly dubbed the "Bleak House."

It has become a new trend to showcase collections of famous folks, and while one can call Del Toro an artist in his own right, the focus is rarely on the collection's owner's artwork (though there are some great excerpts from Del Toro's notebooks).  The collections, much like this one, are meant to be curated to resemble as one would see them at the owner's home.  In Joe Coleman's case, the show is supposedly going to be curated exactly as it appears in the Odditorium.  Del Toro's show, however, is curated to flow from one aspect of Del Toro's creative mind to another ranging from Innocence and Childhood, to Magic, Alchemy and the Occult, to Frankenstein and Horror, and rounding out to Death and the Afterlife.

The show views like a cabinet of curiosities with large scale wax figures wearing elaborate costumes from Del Toro's films inter-spliced with packed glass, well...cabinets filled with curious things such as a Feejee Mermaid, strange sculptures, and a mask used in Bram Stoker's Dracula.  There are also works of fine art from Del Toro's collection, including works from Zdzislaw Beksinski (though one of which was lit so poorly that you had to stand almost against another work to see it) and drawings from Stephen Gammell of "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" fame.  I'm a huge sucker for lush visuals and Del Toro's collection is full of them, as one might expect from his films.  As a fan of horror and the occult as well, this exhibit was a visual goldmine.  You are first greeted by a large scale figure of the Angel of Death from Hellboy outside the actual exhibit and are met with the lush color scheme of black and red that will carry you throughout.  The color scheme sets the mood well for the show and the show even gets its own soundtrack, via Gustavo Santaolalla. There was simply too much to see, however.  The rooms did not flow from one to the other in a coherent manner, and I found myself overwhelmed at times with everything there was to see.  It seems that one must visit more than once to get the full scope of the show.

Some of my favorite things were the reels of clips from his films shown on televisions throughout the show, and the wax figures posed in scenes that made them look as if they would greet you when you passed.  I was giddy and full of wonder when I walked from room to room, but the surreality would be suspended when I couldn't figure out where I was supposed to go next.  The rooms were separated by subject matter with Childhood and Innocence first and Death and the Afterlife upon exiting, but the middle kind of jumbled together for me.

Overall, this exhibit is stunning visually and is more like eye heroin than eye candy for fans of his work and the subject matter in general.
I also picked up a catalog, which I highly recommend doing if you visit the show.  Even if you don't visit, it's a really well done book and a great collector's piece.
You can purchase the catalog HERE as well as some other really fun stuff.
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