Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro is “At Home with Monsters”

Photo: Portrait of Guillermo del Toro at Bleak House. Photo © Josh White/ JWPictures.com

Mexican film director, screenwriter, producer, and novelist Guillermo del Toro (b. 1964) is best known for the dark fantasies he brings to the screen. From Blade II 2002) and Hellboy (2004) to Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) and Pacific Rim (2013), del Toro’s work boldly combines the genres of fairy tale and horror to create a poetic beauty that honor the monsters that lurk in the dark corners of our soul.

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Del Toro is an artist and a visionary, using film as the final form for his storytelling prowess. But long before the monsters come to life on the silver screen, del Toro explores the complexity of their characters behind the scenes. In celebration of his intricate creative process, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters, on view now through November 27, 2016. The exhibition will then travel to its co-organizing institutions: the Minneapolis Institute of Art (February 26–May 21, 2017) and the Art Gallery of Ontario (September 30, 2017–January 7, 2018).

Guillermo del Toro' Bleak House. Photo © Josh White/ JWPictures.com

Guillermo del Toro’ Bleak House. Photo © Josh White/ JWPictures.com

At Home with Monsters, the filmmaker’s first museum retrospective, is drawn from del Toro’s vast personal collection. Featuring approximately 500 objects including sculpture, paintings, prints, photography, costumes, ancient artifacts, books, maquettes, and film, the exhibition will engulf you in a powerful spell.

Del Toro observes, “To find beauty in the profane. To elevate the banal. To be moved by genre. These things are vital for storytelling. This exhibition represents 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, Page from Notebook 2, Leather-bound notebook, ink on paper, 8 x 10 x1 1/2 in., Collection of Guillermo del Toro. © Guillermo del Toro. Photo courtesy Insight Editions.

Guillermo del Toro, Page from Notebook 2, Leather-bound notebook, ink on paper, 8 x 10 x1 1/2 in., Collection of Guillermo del Toro. © Guillermo del Toro. Photo courtesy Insight Editions.

Organized thematically rather than chronologically, At Home with Monsters is a whirlwind trip through the mind of one of the most creative and original filmmakers working today. The sections include “Childhood and Innocence,” which explores the central role children play in his films; “Victoriana,” which references the nineteenth-century British influences in del Toro’s work, including Bleak House, his personal residence; and “Rain Room,” which recreates a favorite spot from his home with a false window and special effects that simulate a perpetual thunderstorm.

The exhibition continues with “Magic, Alchemy, and the Occult,” which speaks to del Toro’s love for the boundaries between the holy and unholy; “Movies, Comics, Pop Culture,” which take us inside the filmmaker’s favorite influences; “Frankenstein and Horror,” which reveal del Toro’s love for one of the greatest monsters of all time; “Freaks and Monsters,” which showcases his love for the tragedy of monster life; and “Death and Afterlife,” which circles back to his native Mexico, which he was forced to leave behind after his father was kidnapped and ransomed.

Film Still from Crimson Peak, 2016 © Legendary/Universal

Film Still from Crimson Peak, 2016 © Legendary/Universal

At Home with Monsters will put a smile on your face as you enter into a world where the dark side is warmly embraced. For del Toro, the tragedy of the monster is a reflection of our own, the monster simply becoming one with the trauma that has devastated his or her soul. The monster is not simply a demon but something more complex, caught between two worlds, never knowing if salvation and damnation will come next. For del Toro, this is an incredible space, one ripe with possibilities that are prescient parables for our age.


Miss Rosen is a New York-based writer, curator, and brand strategist. There is nothing she adores so much as photography and books. A small part of her wishes she had a proper library, like in the game of Clue. Then she could blaze and write soliloquies to her in and out of print loves.