Director, cinematographer, visual artist, writer, and underground film legend Mike Kuchar was born in New York City in 1942, and began making 8mm home movies starring friends and family with his twin brother George at age12 in the Bronx. They became central to the 1960s NY underground film scene,screening work alongside Andy Warhol, Kenneth Anger, and Jack Smith. Called “legends in the world of experimental film” by Roger Ebert, the Kuchars have influenced filmmaking giants ncluding John Waters, Todd Solondz, Pedro Almodovar, and Atom Egoyan.
Mike attended commercial art high school with the likes of Gerard Malanga of the Warhol factory and worked as a fashion photo retoucher while making his own 16mm movies of which Sins of the Fleshapoids (1965) and The Craven Sluck (1967) are most noted for their camp quality. In the past 10 years, Mike has focused on more intimate one person expressionistic films. He coauthored, with his brother George REFLECTIONS FROM A CINEMATIC CESSPOOL published in 1997, a humorous memoir discussing four decades of filmmaking and including an introduction by director John Waters. Mike and George Kuchar were the co-recipients of United States Artist Rockefeller Fellowship Award (2006), the Vanguard Director Award at the 11th CineVegas Film Festival, and FRAMELINE Lifetime Achievement Award at San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival (2009).
Throughout his life Mike has also drawn, prodigiously, an equally amplified world of exaggerated characters. Influenced by his time with 19th century French paintings, natural history museums, New York and San Francisco gay underground and American comic culture, producing exquisitely drafted scenes of Man throughout history from the late 1970s to present. The drawings were made for various homoerotic comic publications in the US include Meatmen, Manscape, Gay Heart Throbs, and First Hand, among others. Mike’s films and illustrations have been exhibited internationally.
Mike Kuchar has exhibited his drawings at [2nd floor projects], Baer Ridgway Gallery, and MagnetSF, all in San Francisco; Francois Ghebaly Gallery Los Angeles; Frieze Art Fair 2012, London; The Apartment, Vancouver; and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York. Upcoming Mike will be featured in LITTLE JOE A magazine about queers and cinema, mostly. Mike currently teaches Electro-graphic Sinema in the film department at the San Francisco Art Institute. He is represented by [2nd floor projects] San Francisco.
In the 2008 Artforum review on the Kuchar brothers exhibition critic Bruce Hainley deemed the Kuchar brothers, “two of the most important artists this country has ever produced.”
Photo credit: Henny Garfunkel, 2012