Fright at the Museum: Guillermo del Toro’s LACMA Retrospective

Josh White/JWPictures.com; Guillermo del Toro/Courtesy Insight Editions

"At Home with Monsters" delves into the director’s eldritch imagination.

With art house horror films like Cronos and Pan’s Labyrinth, Mexican auteur Guillermo del Toro revels in elaborate production designs that evoke whole twisted worlds beyond the camera’s frame, proving that the devil is indeed in the intricately rendered details. His thoroughly realized imagination has made him a prime candidate for a major museum retrospective.

“As a collector himself, he basically has a curatorial mindset,” explains Britt Salvesen of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, cocurator of “Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters,” a touring exhibition jointly conceived by LACMA, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the Art Gallery of Ontario. “His whole house is a cabinet of curiosities.” Salvesen is referring to Bleak House, del Toro’s red-walled Los Angeles workspace filled with vintage horror ephemera, sinister Victorian furniture, books on the occult, and ghoulish figures from monster movies like Frankenstein and his own Hellboy.

Drawing from more than 400 items in del Toro’s personal collection of oddities, the exhibition also includes pieces picked from LACMA’s holdings by the director himself to complement his work. “He has no distinction in his thinking between so-called low and high art,” Salvesen says. “There can be an R. Crumb drawing next to a William Blake print. That’s a good message to ponder in a museum setting.” At LACMA through November 27; 5905 Wilshire Blvd.; 323-857-6000; lacma.org.