This presentation will examine the relationship between Decadent experimental film in the United States and the aesthetics of Gay culture of the 1960s in order to articulate a politics of American decadent cinema. I will be analyzing Kenneth Anger’s Kustom Kar Komandos (1965) and Andy Warhol’s Blowjob (1963). The choice of Anger and Warhol are intended as case studies exemplifying major east coast and west coast Decadent artists, not in an attempt to construct a geographic binary but to look at how Decadent aesthetics were being evoked across the United States. Both artists approached Decadent aesthetics in different ways. Anger’s approach was a fervent kitsch embrace of fetishism coupling psychedelic color aesthetics with pop music. Warhol’s decadence comes as a cool reflection of contemporary queer subculture, in this instance gay cruising culture. Looking at ideas like new occultism, psychedelics, gay cruising, and car culture, as well as the importance of film as a decadent medium, I will explore how the cultural revolution of the 1960s was a catalyst for Decadent movements across America.
Christian Waguespack is a PhD student in Art History at the University of Arizona. He holds a masters degrees in Art Historyand Museum Studies from the University of New Mexico. Christian’s research focuses on 20thcentury American Art with special attention to the history of film and photography.