My Review Of The LACMA / Guillermo del Toro Exhibit

 Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters - Los Angeles County Museum of Art 

Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters - Los Angeles County Museum of Art 

When I heard that LACMA’s latest exhibit was curated by Guillermo del Toro I knew I had to go. I took my son Harry along because we both appreciate the creepy and macabre, and we like to watch horror films together, and at this point I am lucky he wants to do anything with his mom.

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If you don’t know who Guillermo del Toro is, he is a director/creator/writer of such films as Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak, Hellboy, Pacific Rim, and the TV show “The Strain”.  He creates alternate realities that pull you in and leave you asking bigger questions of reality, mortality, good/evil.  I was at the exhibit for 2 hours, could have stayed another, and plan to see to it again. 

Upon entry we were “greeted” by the satyr, a movie prop from “Pan’s Labyrinth” as well as a video clip of a scene from the film.  As I walked throughout the exhibit I heard sounds which I attributed to the video screen throughout the exhibit. Then there was a loud “bang” which actually startled me. I searched for the source, presuming some exhibit has fallen on a patron - nothing.  Odd, I thought, but this whole experience was odd.  Again I heard another crash, listening I realized that there were sequences of sounds, and strains of chords being played. It was the soundtrack!  A backdrop of weird black noise, menacing tones with occasional bangs and booms.  It was created especially for the exhibit by composer Gustavo Santaolalla, making this a truly multi-media, immersive experience.

The exhibit was mostly pieces from his personal collection accompanied by pieces from his films and some from the LACMA archives. The exhibit was an exploration of del Toro’s influences, telling the story of his life and creative process. Rooms had themes like: the innocence of children, magic and the occult, and comics and pop culture. 

The photo of me standing in front of the room with the Frankenstein head is a shot of the foyer in his personal home!, which he refers to as “Bleak House”.  This guy is not playing - he lives what he loves- and that authenticity is one of there things I find most appealing about him.

The exhibit showcases pieces from his vast personal collection of classic movie memorabilia, books he read as a child, Hitchcock and Disney items, personal diaries, items collected from his travels, etc… accompanied by pieces from the LACMA permanent collection, befitting the theme.  On display were his journals that he had been creating since age of 10. It was really powerful to see his childhood dreams made manifest into the exhibits right before my eyes.

 The exhibit was an exploration of del Toro’s influences, telling the story of his life and creative process. Rooms had themes like: the innocence of children, magic and the occult, comics, pop culture, insects, to name a few.  It was as if you were visiting his mind.

 Gahan Wilson

Gahan Wilson

 One of my favorite places in the exhibit was the rain window. It was apart of the Edgar Allan Poe exhibit and was used to create a morose ambiance with soundtrack of rain and lightning. The rain effect was made up of thousands of tiny lights. The story behind it was a childhood fulfillment for del Toro. When he was a child he wanted to write next to a window that was always dark and stormy. Later, in his adult life he created it for himself. It makes you want to put on a sweater and eat soup - I too will be doing that in my next house!

I also enjoyed the Ray Harryhausen set pieces, skeleton argonauts and the claymation dinosaur models - all from the earliest stop-animation monster movies I watched as a child. 

Harry liked the Pan's Labyrinth items best and he was real patient with me, as i read EVERYTHING.  Please enjoy the photos of him standing in front of kindred spirits - thats usually how he looks after I drag him to LACMA.

So drag your kids and go - I highly recommend it!