Kenneth Anger , avant-garde filmmaker, pioneer of video art and author of short films that are epochal in how they examined the themes of eroticism and gay love, has died at 96 years old.
In addition to authoring many short films, Anger was also known for writing Hollywood Babylon , a book which, in 1959, shone a spotlight on the scandals stirring beneath the surface of the film Mecca.
Anger’s death was announced on social media by her gallery, Sprueth Magers:
It is with deep sadness that we mourn the passing of visionary filmmaker, artist and author Kenneth Anger (1927–2023). Kenneth was a pioneer. His cinematic genius and his influence will live on forever and continue to transform all who encounter his films, his words and his vision.
Anger’s films include Fireworks , a 1947 short considered seminal in the history of gay culture in America, Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (pictured), and Scorpio Rising . Her shorts were characterized by “a mystical-symbolic visual language and a phantasmagorical-sensual opulence that highlights the transgressive potential of the medium”. His films generally had a great impact on the aesthetics of the 60s and 70s, but also on the video clips of the MTV era, with their rapid and surreal montages. Among the music videos that have drawn inspiration from his work we remember that of Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood (not surprisingly from an album entitledWelcome to the Pleasure Dome ) andThe Rolling Stones ‘ Sympathy for the Devil . Anger had also played with satanic imagery in his work: Invocation of My Demon Brother , for example, where Mick Jagger and the founder of the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey , appeared .
His Hollywood Babylon , which includes anecdotes about Charlie Chaplin , Rudolph Valentino, Errol Flynn, Lana Turner, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe and Sharon Tate , had an enormous influence on the mythology of Hollywood, although many of the stories told have since been discredited as pure fiction.