Kenneth Anger

1927 Artist

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Kenneth Anger is an avant-garde filmmaker and artist whose work explores Hollywood, stardom and the occult. In summary of the filmmaker's alternating reverence and revulsion for commercial cinema P. Adams Sitney wrote: "For him more than for any other avant-garde filmmaker Hollywood is both his matrix and the adversary."

Anger grew up in Los Angeles and attended Beverly Hills High School where he completed his short film, ESCAPE EPISODE, which was recognized by Lewis Jacobs in "Hollywood Quarterly." In 1948 he completed FIREWORKS, a dreamily erotic investigation of queer desire that he described as "all I have to say about being seventeen, the United States Navy, American Christmas, and the Fourth of July." French artist Jean Cocteau was so impressed with FIREWORKS that he awarded it the Poetic Film Prize at his Festival of Forbidden Films.

Anger moved to Paris in 1950 where he apprenticed for Henri Langlois at the Cinematheque Française. During this period Anger authored HOLLYWOOD BABYLON (1959), a tawdry expose of tinseltown's dirty laundry. After a series of failed projects Anger returned to Los Angeles to make INAUGURATION OF THE PLEASURE DOME (1954), a glamorous recreation of an occultist ritual. Anger's next project was SCORPIO RISING (1964) which set bikers, stag parties, star-worship and leather culture to a soundtrack of pop hits by musicians including Elvis, Ricky Nelson and Ray Charles.

Anger had attracted significant attention by the 1970s and engaged in high-profile collaborations with Marianne Faithfull on LUCIFER RISING (1972) and Mick Jagger on INVOCATION OF MY DEMON BROTHER (1969).

After taking a decades long break from filmmaking, Anger returned to film in the early 2000s and in 2013 premiered his film AIRSHIPS at the Toronto Film Festival. Anger remains a high profile artist who works continues to engage with popular culture, magick, and the history of Los Angeles.

[Contributor: Gamliel Wernick]