Anger Sees Red

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A video sketch from 2004 in which Kenneth Anger manages to give us in four minutes some familiar preoccupations: Rudolph Valentino, occult symbolism, and a hunky guy in the form of the sunbathing gentleman named Red who provides the focus of the piece. The copy on YouTube is labelled “restricted work print” so this may not be its final state.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon
Lucifer Rising posters
Externsteine panoramas
Missoni by Kenneth Anger
Anger in London
Arabesque for Kenneth Anger by Marie Menken
Edmund Teske
Kenneth Anger on DVD again
Mouse Heaven by Kenneth Anger
The Man We Want to Hang by Kenneth Anger
Relighting the Magick Lantern
Kenneth Anger on DVD…finally

Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon

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Nigel Finch was a key member of the team of producers and directors working on the BBC’s Arena arts documentaries throughout their golden run during the 1980s and 1990s. The films he directed himself—among them studies of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photography, and a history of the Chelsea Hotel in New York—gave him an opportunity to push some gay content into the TV schedules at a time when Britain’s gay population were seen as enough of a public threat to be legislated against. Some of that proselytising impulse can be found in Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon (1991), an hour-long documentary which alternates the life and work of the filmmaker with readings and enactments of the lurid episodes recounted in Anger’s scandal anthologies, Hollywood Babylon and Hollywood Babylon II. Finch at one point asks whether Fireworks, the first film in Anger’s Magick Lantern Cycle, should be regarded as a pioneering piece of gay cinema; Anger’s says he’s happy if people take it that way but says little else about its evident homoerotic atmosphere. He remains as resistant to identity politics as he’s always been. (See the unauthorised biography by Bill Landis for details.)

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Between the readings and interview sections Finch shows Anger being chauffeured around Beverly Hills in a hearse which stops occasionally at some locus of bygone scandal. Most of the Anger anecdotes are familiar ones from subsequent interviews but there is a bonus for Angerphiles with the appearance at the end of Marianne Faithfull who talks a little about their relationship before singing Boulevard Of Broken Dreams. The picture quality of this YouTube copy could be better but it’s watchable enough.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Lucifer Rising posters
Externsteine panoramas
Missoni by Kenneth Anger
Anger in London
Arabesque for Kenneth Anger by Marie Menken
Edmund Teske
Kenneth Anger on DVD again
Mouse Heaven by Kenneth Anger
The Man We Want to Hang by Kenneth Anger
Relighting the Magick Lantern
Kenneth Anger on DVD…finally

Lucifer Rising posters

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Lucifer Rising: A Love Vision by Kenneth Anger (1967) by Rick Griffin.

The status of Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising as a kind of poly-cultural crossroads even extends to its poster art. The original poster by Rick Griffin dates back to the earliest drafts of the film, and with its swipe from Gustave Doré makes me think it’s the kind of thing Wilfried Sätty might have produced for Anger had he been asked. (They were both living in San Francisco at this time.)

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The San Francisco poster artists happily plundered the past for unusual images; Doré was a popular choice since his images are frequently striking and copies of the books (or reprints) would have been easy to find. This is one of the illustrations from the Purgatorio section of his illustrated Divine Comedy (1867) showing Dante being ferried up Mount Purgatory (“like Ganymede”) by a giant eagle.

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From Dante and Virgil to Virgil Finlay, one of whose illustrations was used on this promo sheet advertising a limited run of Bobby Beausoleil’s soundtrack for the film.

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Earth’s Last Citadel (1950) by Virgil Finlay.

The illustration this time is for a reprint of Earth’s Last Citadel by CL Moore and Henry Kuttner in Fantastic Novels Magazine for July 1950. I’ve never seen any mention of William Burroughs meeting Kenneth Anger which is a shame since they had acquaintances in common and Burroughs occasionally showed an interest in some of Aleister Crowley’s ideas. The Henry Kuttner connection in this case would provide a link to some of the borrowings Burroughs himself made from Kuttner’s writing. But no, it’s too much of a reach.

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Lucifer Rising (1980) by Page Wood.

After all that the final poster is an original piece of work by Page Wood for a premier screening at the Whitney Museum, New York in 1980. The art avoids the overt occultism in favour of making a resolutely low-budget piece seem like a Hollywood epic. Given Anger’s lifelong obsession with Hollywood’s myths and tragedies I think he would have appreciated that.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Externsteine panoramas
San Francisco by Anthony Stern
The art of Alia Penner
Missoni by Kenneth Anger
Anger in London
Arabesque for Kenneth Anger by Marie Menken
Edmund Teske
Kenneth Anger on DVD again
Mouse Heaven by Kenneth Anger
The Man We Want to Hang by Kenneth Anger
Relighting the Magick Lantern
Kenneth Anger on DVD…finally

The art of Alia Penner

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Kenneth Anger poster (2009).

Alia Penner, like Arik Roper, is another talented member of the omniversal Arthur posse as well as being an illustrator, designer and photographer in her own right. Her title designs opened the Missoni promotional film which Kenneth Anger directed earlier this year, and her work on paper follows a distinctly psychedelic path. The new piece below reminds me a little of Wilfried Sätty’s colour collages with its spots and eggs and butterflies. There’s more gorgeous work to be seen here.

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Somewhere (2010).

Previously on { feuilleton }
Arik Roper relaunched
Wilfried Sätty: Artist of the occult
Missoni by Kenneth Anger

Missoni by Kenneth Anger

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I did have another Ludwig post planned for today but that’s been set aside for a different kind of fabulosity following the news that Kenneth Anger has made a new film. Italian fashion house Missoni commissioned Anger to make a short promo for their Fall/Winter collection and you can see the delirious results in high-resolution here. The film features Missoni family members peering out from among the layered moons and stars while the titles are by Arthur magazine’s Psychedelic Healing Visions Correspondent, Alia Penner.

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“I’m fascinated by Kenneth Anger’s use of color and his ability to transform a film into a three-dimensional texture, a fabric of images in movement,” explained Angela Missoni.  This is how she introduced her decision to entrust the Missoni F/W 2011 campaign to one of America’s most famous authors and directors of avant-garde cinema.

Anger—a hyperactive octogenarian who loves working in the wee hours of the night and at dawn using sophisticated instruments such as the RED digital camera that has the characteristics of a classic 35 mm camera—flew in from Los Angeles to film the campaign in Sumirago that involved all the members of the great Missoni family. They are the stars of this campaign that was conceived as a series of superimposed and overlapping portraits. (More.)

Via Arthur!

Previously on { feuilleton }
Anger in London
Arabesque for Kenneth Anger by Marie Menken
Edmund Teske
Kenneth Anger on DVD again
Mouse Heaven by Kenneth Anger
The Man We Want to Hang by Kenneth Anger
Relighting the Magick Lantern
Kenneth Anger on DVD…finally