Kenneth Anger Artist Filmmaker And Underground Cult Figure Dies Aged 96

Still from Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising (1964)

The homoerotic artist and filmmaker Kenneth Anger, whose transgressional body of work delved into the occult, paganism and LGBTQ+ subject matter, has died aged 96.

Anger was an American underground filmmaker, author, and occultist who was known for his avant-garde, experimental films. Born Kenneth Wilbur Anglemyer on February 3, 1927, in Santa Monica, California, He was a significant figure in the realms of independent cinema and counterculture.

Anger developed an interest in cinema and began making films at an early age. In the 1940s, during his teenage years, he produced a series of short films, including “Fireworks” (1947), which explored themes of homosexuality and desire. This groundbreaking film established Anger as a pioneer of LGBTQ+ and independent filmmaking, laying the foundation for his distinctive style.

Throughout his career, Anger’s work has often incorporated elements of the occult, pop culture, and homoeroticism. In addition, he was heavily influenced by various mythologies, symbolism, and esoteric practices, drawing inspiration from figures such as Aleister Crowley, the infamous occultist.

Anger’s best-known work is the “Magick Lantern Cycle,” a series of short films that delve into occult themes and explore the hidden realms of the subconscious. This cycle includes films like “Scorpio Rising” (1963), “Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome” (1964), and “Lucifer Rising” (1980). These films combine experimental visuals, mesmerising soundtracks, and ritualistic imagery to create hypnotic and provocative cinematic experiences.

In addition to his filmmaking, Anger has also written books that delve into topics related to cinema, mythology, and the occult. His notable publications include “Hollywood Babylon” (1965), a controversial and scandalous exploration of the dark side of Hollywood, and “Hollywood Babylon II” (1984), which further exposed the underbelly of the entertainment industry.

Kenneth Anger’s work has significantly impacted the underground and experimental film scene, influencing subsequent generations of filmmakers, artists, and musicians. His visual style, unorthodox subject matter, and exploration of taboo themes earned him a cult following and solidified his status as a legendary figure in independent cinema.
Despite his limited filmography, Kenneth Anger’s contributions to the art of filmmaking and his audacious approach to storytelling have left an indelible mark on the history of cinema. His work continues to be celebrated and studied for its boldness, symbolism, and unconventional narrative structures, making him an enduring icon in the realm of avant-garde cinema.

Top Photo: Still from Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising (1964) © Kenneth Anger

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