Enfant Terrible, Kenneth Anger, Is Almost Turning 90

Photo by Katherine Mcmahon

Photo by Katherine Mcmahon

"When I arrived, I asked the man at the front desk about a reservation for Kenneth Anger and his face went white.

Anger walked in 20 minutes later, and the waiters swiveled to see him—the whole room did. He was scowling, eyes glaring, and wearing a track jacket emblazoned on the back with the word 'LUCIFER.' A host led him to a booth. Musso & Frank is the oldest restaurant in Hollywood, but only a few years older than Anger, America’s first avant-garde filmmaker.

For decades, Anger was quite literally a cult figure—a filmmaker with a strong affinity for the occult teaching of Aleister Crowley, known only from clandestine midnight gatherings. In 2010, Jeffrey Deitch, then the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, wanted to include Anger in a show about L.A. artists. He was told, 'Kenneth Anger, he’s no longer alive.'

'It’s not an exaggeration to say he’s the inventor of independent cinema, he’s the inventor of gay cinema, and my friend David LaChapelle says he’s the inventor of the music video,' Deitch said. 'This guy is astonishing in his contributions.'

The rumors of Anger’s death turned out to have been overstated. His work has popped up in exhibitions ranging from the Whitney Biennial to last year’s Art Basel art fair in Switzerland, courtesy of his dealer, Sprüth Magers. The gallery just opened an outpost on Anger’s home turf, ensuring that he’ll be represented in Los Angeles for the immediate future. Long considered, however quietly, a founder of video art and underground film, Anger, as he approaches his 90th year, is doing something nobody would have expected seven decades ago, when he was starting out: stepping into the spotlight." - Nate Freeman via ArtNews