I was so excited to finally see the Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) this past week in Toronto. It did not disappoint with several drawings, moulds, costumes, sculptures and many more artefacts. I couldn’t believe how extensive his horror and fantasy collection is- which also made me completely jealous.
The man owns two original H.R. Giger pieces and original concept art by James Cameron from the film Aliens in 1986, not to mention what I consider to be a rockstar level piece of movie history- the red mask designed by the late Eiko Ishioka from Bram Stoker’s Dracula!
The exhibit is vast and can certainly be overwhelming if you don’t allow yourself enough time to peruse the collection but please do be on the look out for those aforementioned gems amongst the several pieces of memorabilia from Guillermo del Toro’s own films. I highly recommend the audio guide on this exhibit so you don’t end up missing something truly special given the abundance of items.
Nearing the end of the exhibit I could feel my energy waning when I suddenly noticed that the classical music I was listening to was not coming from the speakers but from live piano accompaniment. The pianist was playing from Rachmaninoff, 13 Preludes, Opus 32 for the Piano. It was oddly quite calming in the midst of the storm that is Guillermo del Toro’s inner psyche.
One question I heard someone ask at the AGO is whether someone “would still enjoy the exhibit without ever having seen a Guillermo del Toro film?” I attended with my sister who had never seen one of his films and she liked it too. If you enjoy horror and fantasy films with a touch of whimsy than you will love the exhibit. Certainly it increased my interest to rewatch his films. I intend on going to the exhibit again after I rewatch his filmography. All of this is simply to say- this exhibit is well worth the price of admission and I highly recommend seeing it.
Guillermo del Toro’s next film The Shape of Water will open in North America on December 8th. I wait with baited breath to see Guillermo del Toro’s brainchild but also to see what looks like breathtaking work from production designer Paul Austerberry.
Who is Guillermo del Toro?
Guillermo del Toro is a Mexican-American film director, screenwriter, producer, and novelist. In his filmmaking career, del Toro has alternated between Spanish-language dark fantasy pieces, such as the gothic horror films The Devil’s Backbone (2001) and Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), and more mainstream American action films, such as the vampire superhero action film Blade II (2002), the supernatural superhero film Hellboy (2004), its sequel Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008), and the science fiction monster film Pacific Rim (2013). His latest film, The Shape of Water (2017), received critical praise and won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
Del Toro’s work is characterised by a strong connection to fairy tales and horror, with an effort to infuse visual or poetic beauty. He has a lifelong fascination with monsters, which he considers symbols of great power. Del Toro is known for his use of insectile and religious imagery, the themes of Catholicism and celebrating imperfection, underworld and clockwork motifs, practical special effects, and dominant amber lighting. He is also close friends with his fellow Mexican filmmakers Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu.
What is ‘Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters’?
From the fantastic to the frightful, this is a rare glimpse into the world of renowned filmmaker Guillermo del Toro and his cabinet of curiosities. Taking inspiration from del Toro’s extraordinary imagination, At Home with Monsters reveals his creative process through his personal collection of art, artefacts, books, and props, all culled from Bleak House, del Toro’s creative haven located in Los Angeles.
This unique exhibition explores the creative mind behind one of the most inventive filmmakers of our generation revealing his influences, from the Medieval era to contemporary culture, and his particular obsession with horror, fantasy and the rich heritage of the Victorian era. At Home with Monsters is organized thematically, beginning with visions of childhood and innocence and the Victorian era; continuing through explorations of death and the afterlife, magic, occultism, alchemy, Frankenstein and horror, monsters; and concluding with a celebration of comics, movies and popular culture.
The Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters exhibit opened to the public September 29th at the Art Gallery of Ontario and continues until January 7, 2018. For more information, please visit ago.net.
Have you seen the exhibit? Are you a fan of Guillermo del Toro? Which of his films is your favourite? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.
Rose Lagacé | @artdepartmental