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Kenneth Anger unveils unseen occult art masterpieces by Marjorie Cameron and Aleister Crowley


 
Underground film legend Kenneth Anger has seen a huge wave of interest in his work since his acclaimed “ Magick Lantern Cycle” films became widely available to a new generation on DVD over a decade ago. The now 88-year-old director and author has made several new films in recent years, venturing into music with the Technicolor Skull project, and even the world of fashion, shooting a campaign for Italian fashion house Missoni and producing a limited edition reproduction of the iconic rainbow “Lucifer” baseball jacket from his film Lucifer Rising. Archival prints made from high resolution frame scans from his movies sell for top dollar in art galleries in New York, Paris and Tokyo.
 

 
And now, Anger is branching out into the world of retail, debuting a hybrid pop-up art gallery/store at the Art Los Angeles Contemporary art fair. Produced in collaboration with Anger’s longtime associate Brian Butler, the Lucifer Brothers pop-up shop will be selling original art, as well as some reasonably-priced signed limited edition prints, Kenneth Anger tee-shirts and the above pictured Lucifer Rising baseball jacket.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LOS ANGELES, CA 1/28/2016

The Lucifer Brothers pop-up art gallery and store is the culmination of Kenneth Anger’s lifelong obsession with the occult. In 1955 Anger was the first to revisit Aleister Crowley’s former temple in Cefalù, Sicily. With the help of Alfred C. Kinsey, Anger painstakingly restored Crowley’s otherworldly murals which spilled across the inside walls of the villa, removing layers of whitewash to reveal the nightmares underneath. Prior to this Anger connected with Marjorie Cameron, the widow of famed JPL rocket scientist and occultist Jack Parsons, casting her in his classic film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome in 1956. Recently the art world has taken great interest of Cameron’s body of work, with her esoteric art—or what remains of it—included in the popular museum exhibit “Semina Culture: Wallace Berman & His Circle” and in recent solo career retrospectives of her work in Los Angeles and Manhattan.

After attending the Cameron exhibit at MOCA and a follow up showing at Jeffrey Deitch’s gallery in New York, Anger lamented that Cameron’s most powerful occult works remained unseen. Through his web of arcane connection’s Anger now unveils Cameron’s monumental life-sized portrait of a demon entitled “Blue Prophet” which was inspired by visions Cameron experienced during her marriage to Jack Parsons and her part in the infamous Babalon Working ritual that included Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Other works by Australian artist Rosaleen Norton (aka “The Witch of Kings Cross) whose powerful paintings are seldom encountered in the US, British occultist Aleister Crowley and Anger himself will be made available to the public for the first time.

Kenneth Anger is lauded as an influential experimental filmmaker, actor, and author of the infamous Hollywood Babylon gossip books. His films, which include Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954), Scorpio Rising (1964) and Lucifer Rising (1980) have inspired filmmakers as disparate as Martin Scorsese, David Lynch and John Waters.

The Art Los Angeles Contemporary event—and the Lucifer Brothers pop-up gallery—opens this evening. On Saturday January 30th at 3:30pm Anger will make a special appearance onstage at the ALAC Theatre, which will be set up at the Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica Airport, where the fair is being held.

I saw Kenneth at the opening of the Marjorie Cameron retrospective at MOCA in the museum’s annex at the Pacific Design Center in 2014. Ken’s normally quite gracious and a lovely guy to converse with, but that night he was PISSED OFF, alleging that the museum was exhibiting something that was stolen from him in the early 1960s, a rare first edition of Aleister Crowley’s Book of Thoth, which is worth several thousand dollars today. All 200 original copies of that lavishly published Moroccan leather-bound edition of The Book of Thoth were signed and numbered by Crowley’s hand, and although the book was being displayed locked under glass, Anger was positive that he knew exactly what number this particular book was and demanding that the case be unlocked to prove that it was his stolen property. He even brought along an FBI officer as his guest to the event! I don’t know what ultimately became of the situation, but it was an interesting evening to be sure. I’ve always wanted to see Anger get, er, Anger-y and even at his age, his performance didn’t disappoint.

The press release makes mention of “what remains of it” regarding Cameron’s art. Cameron herself destroyed nearly ALL of her paintings and sketchbooks, burning them in an act of “ritualized suicide.” What you can see below, in Curtis Harrington’s extraordinary portrait of the artist, Wormwood Star, is perhaps the sole surviving documentation of that work (outside of the astral plane…). I don’t think more than two of the pieces seen onscreen below still exist. Maybe only one of them.

So very few pieces by Marjorie Cameron have survived—some smaller watercolor paintings and some pencil sketches, one large oil painting that the late Curtis Harrington had owned—and so the one that Anger is unveiling at his Lucifer Brothers pop-up gallery, titled “Blue Prophet” (see above) is a real coup for the Art Los Angeles Contemporary fair. I’ve seen this large watercolor in person, twice, and it’s a truly weird and mind-bending thing to behold. Most of her work is on the small side, but this one is about the size of a door and at least 2x to 3x larger than most of Cameron’s extant work that I’ve ever seen. To my mind, it’s one of the very best ones.
 
Curtis Harrington’s ‘Wormwood Star’
 

Posted by Richard Metzger

 

 

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