Psychedelic art is any art or visual displays inspired by psychedelic experiences and hallucinations known to follow the ingestion of psychoactive drugs such as LSD and psilocybin. The word "psychedelic" (coined by British psychologist Humphry Osmond) means "mind manifesting". By that definition, all artistic efforts to depict the inner world of the psyche may be considered "psychedelic". In common parlance "psychedelic art" refers above all to the art movement of the late 1960s counterculture. Psychedelic visual arts were a counterpart to psychedelic rock music. Concert posters, album covers, liquid light shows, liquid light art, murals, comic books, underground newspapers and more reflected not only the kaleidoscopically swirling colour patterns of LSD hallucinations, but also revolutionary political, social and spiritual sentiments inspired by insights derived from these psychedelic states of consciousness.
Psychedelic art is informed by the notion that altered states of consciousness produced by psychedelic drugs are a source of artistic inspiration. The psychedelic art movement is similar to the surrealist movement in that it prescribes a mechanism for obtaining inspiration. Whereas the mechanism for surrealism is the observance of dreams, a psychedelic artist turns to drug induced hallucinations. Both movements have strong ties to important developments in science. Whereas the surrealist was fascinated by Freud's theory of the unconscious, the psychedelic artist has been literally "turned on" by Albert Hofmann's discovery of LSD.
The early examples of "psychedelic art" are literary rather than visual, although there are some examples in the Surrealist art movement, such as Remedios Varo and André Masson. It should also be noted that these came from writers involved in the Surrealist movement. Antonin Artaud writes of his peyote experience in Voyage to the Land of the Tarahumara (1937). Henri Michaux wrote Misérable Miracle (1956), to describe his experiments with mescaline and also hashish.
Albert Hofmann and his colleagues at Sandoz Laboratories were convinced immediately after its discovery in 1943 of the power and promise of LSD. For two decades following its discovery LSD was marketed by Sandoz as an important drug for psychological and neurological research. Hofmann saw the drug's potential for poets and artists as well, and took great interest in the German writer Ernst Jünger's psychedelic experiments.
Early artistic experimentation with LSD was conducted in a clinical context by Los Angeles–based psychiatrist Oscar Janiger. Janiger asked a group of 50 different artists to each do a painting from life of a subject of the artist's choosing. They were subsequently asked to do the same painting while under the influence of LSD. The two paintings were compared by Janiger and also the artist. The artists almost unanimously reported LSD to be an enhancement to their creativity.
Ultimately it seems that psychedelics would be most warmly embraced by the American counterculture. Beatnik poets Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs became fascinated by psychedelic drugs as early as the 1950s as evidenced by The Yage Letters (1963). The Beatniks recognized the role of psychedelics as sacred inebriants in Native American religious ritual, and also had an understanding of the philosophy of the surrealist and symbolist poets who called for a "complete disorientation of the senses" (to paraphrase Arthur Rimbaud). They knew that altered states of consciousness played a role in Eastern Mysticism. They were hip to psychedelics as psychiatric medicine. LSD was the perfect catalyst to electrify the eclectic mix of ideas assembled by the Beats into a cathartic, mass-distributed panacea for the soul of the succeeding generation.
Leading proponents of the 1960s psychedelic art movement were San Francisco poster artists such as: Rick Griffin, Victor Moscoso, Bonnie MacLean, Stanley Mouse & Alton Kelley, and Wes Wilson. Their psychedelic rock concert posters were inspired by Art Nouveau, Victoriana, Dada, and Pop Art. The "Fillmore Posters" were among the most notable of the time. Richly saturated colors in glaring contrast, elaborately ornate lettering, strongly symmetrical composition, collage elements, rubber-like distortions, and bizarre iconography are all hallmarks of the San Francisco psychedelic poster art style. The style flourished from about 1966 to 1972. Their work was immediately influential to vinyl record album cover art, and indeed all of the aforementioned artists also created album covers.
Although San Francisco remained the hub of psychedelic art into the early 1970s, the style also developed internationally: British artist Bridget Riley became famous for her op-art paintings of psychedelic patterns creating optical illusions. Mati Klarwein created psychedelic masterpieces for Miles Davis' Jazz-Rock fusion albums, and also for Carlos Santana Latin Rock. Pink Floyd worked extensively with London-based designers, Hipgnosis to create graphics to support the concepts in their albums. Willem de Ridder created cover art for Van Morrison. Los Angeles area artists such as John Van Hamersveld, Warren Dayton and Art Bevacqua and New York artists Peter Max and Milton Glaser all produced posters for concerts or social commentary (such as the anti-war movement) that were highly collected during this time. Life Magazine's cover and lead article for the September 1, 1967 issue at the height of the Summer of Love focused on the explosion of psychedelic art on posters and the artists as leaders in the hippie counterculture community.
Psychedelic light-shows were a new art-form developed for rock concerts. Using oil and dye in an emulsion that was set between large convex lenses upon overhead projectors the lightshow artists created bubbling liquid visuals that pulsed in rhythm to the music. This was mixed with slideshows and film loops to create an improvisational motion picture art form to give visual representation to the improvisational jams of the rock bands and create a completely "trippy" atmosphere for the audience. The Brotherhood of Light were responsible for many of the light-shows in San Francisco psychedelic rock concerts.
Out of the psychedelic counterculture also arose a new genre of comic books: underground comix. "Zap Comix" was among the original underground comics, and featured the work of Robert Crumb, S. Clay Wilson, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin, and Robert Williams among others. Underground Comix were ribald, intensely satirical, and seemed to pursue weirdness for the sake of weirdness. Gilbert Shelton created perhaps the most enduring of underground cartoon characters, "The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers", whose drugged out exploits held a hilarious mirror up to the hippy lifestyle of the 1960s.
Psychedelic art was also applied to the LSD itself. LSD began to be put on blotter paper in the early 1970s and this gave rise to a specialized art form of decorating the blotter paper. Often the blotter paper was decorated with tiny insignia on each perforated square tab, but by the 1990s this had progressed to complete four color designs often involving an entire page of 900 or more tabs. Mark McCloud is a recognized authority on the history of LSD blotter art.
By the late 1960s, the commercial potential of psychedelic art had become hard to ignore. General Electric, for instance, promoted clocks with designs by New York artist Peter Max. A caption explains that each of Max's clocks "transposes time into multi-fantasy colors." In this and many other corporate advertisements of the late 1960s featuring psychedelic themes, the psychedelic product was often kept at arm's length from the corporate image: while advertisements may have reflected the swirls and colors of an LSD trip, the black-and-white company logo maintained a healthy visual distance. Several companies, however, more explicitly associated themselves with psychedelica: CBS, Neiman Marcus, and NBC all featured thoroughly psychedelic advertisements between 1968 and 1969. In 1968, Campbell's soup ran a poster promotion that promised to "Turn your wall souper-delic!"
The early years of the 1970s saw advertisers using psychedelic art to sell a limitless array of consumer goods. Hair products, cars, cigarettes, and even pantyhose became colorful acts of pseudo-rebellion. The Chelsea National Bank commissioned a psychedelic landscape by Peter Max, and neon green, pink, and blue monkeys inhabited advertisements for a zoo. A fantasy land of colorful, swirling, psychedelic bubbles provided the perfect backdrop for a Clearasil ad. As Brian Wells explains, "The psychedelic movement has, through the work of artists, designers, and writers, achieved an astonishing degree of cultural diffusion… but, though a great deal of diffusion has taken place, so, too, has a great deal of dilution and distortion." Even the term "psychedelic" itself underwent a semantic shift, and soon came to mean "anything in youth culture which is colorful, or unusual, or fashionable." Puns using the concept of "tripping" abounded: as an advertisement for London Britches declared, their product was "great on trips!" By the mid-1970s, the psychedelic art movement had been largely co-opted by mainstream commercial forces, incorporated into the very system of capitalism that the hippies had struggled so hard to change.
Computer art has allowed for an even greater and more profuse expression of psychedelic vision. Fractal generating software gives an accurate depiction of psychedelic hallucinatory patterns, but even more importantly 2D and 3D graphics software allow for unparalleled freedom of image manipulation. Much of the graphics software seems to permit a direct translation of the psychedelic vision. The "digital revolution" was indeed heralded early on as the "New LSD" by none other than Timothy Leary.
The rave movement of the 1990s was a psychedelic renaissance fueled by the advent of newly available digital technologies. The rave movement developed a new graphic art style partially influenced by 1960s psychedelic poster art, but also strongly influenced by graffiti art, and by 1970s advertising art, yet clearly defined by what digital art and computer graphics software and home computers had to offer at the time of creation. Conversely, the convolutional neural network DeepDream finds and enhance patterns in images purely via algorithmic pareidolia.
Concurrent to the rave movement, and in key respects integral to it, are the development of new mind-altering drugs, most notably, MDMA (Ecstasy). Ecstasy, like LSD, has had a tangible influence on culture and aesthetics, particularly the aesthetics of rave culture. But MDMA is (arguably) not a real psychedelic, but is described by psychologists as an entactogen. Development of new psychedelics such as 2C-B and related compounds (developed primarily by chemist Alexander Shulgin) are truly psychedelic, and these novel psychedelics are fertile ground for artistic exploration since many of the new psychedelics possess their own unique properties that will affect the artist's vision accordingly.
Even as fashions have changed, and art and culture movements have come and gone, certain artists have steadfastly devoted themselves to psychedelia. Well-known examples are Amanda Sage, Alex Grey, and Robert Venosa. These artists have developed unique and distinct styles that while containing elements that are "psychedelic", are clearly artistic expressions that transcend simple categorization. While it is not necessary to use psychedelics to arrive at such a stage of artistic development, serious psychedelic artists are demonstrating that there is tangible technique to obtaining visions, and that technique is the creative use of psychedelic drugs.
Alton Kelley (June 17, 1940 in Houlton, Maine – June 1, 2008 in Petaluma, California) was an American artist best known for his psychedelic art, in particular his designs for 1960s rock concert posters and album covers. Along with artists Rick Griffin, Stanley Mouse, Victor Moscoso and Wes Wilson, Kelley founded the Berkeley Bonaparte distribution agency in order to produce and sell psychedelic poster art.
Along with fellow artist Stanley Mouse, Kelley is credited with creating the wings and beetles on all Journey album covers as well as the skull and roses image for the Grateful Dead. Kelley's artwork on the 1971 self-titled live album, Grateful Dead, incorporated a black and white illustration of a skeleton by Edmund Sullivan, which originally appeared in a 19th-century edition of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.
In 1995, Kelley designed and printed a limited edition poster of Jack Kerouac to raise money for the Jan Kerouac Benefit Fund. Kelley is also credited for the cover art for the King's X album Ear Candy in 1996.
He was brought up in Connecticut and worked as a welder there.He died on June 1, 2008, at the age of 67, after a long illness.Bonnie MacLean
Bonnie MacLean, also known as Bonnie MacLean Graham is an American artist known for her classic rock posters. In the 1960s and 1970s she created posters and other art for the promotion of rock and roll concerts managed by Bill Graham, using the iconic psychedelic art style of the day. MacLean went on to continue her art as a painter focusing mostly of nudes, still lifes and landscapes.Cyberdelic
Cyberdelic (a portmanteau word combining prefix "cyber-" and "psychedelic") is a term used to refer to either:
Immersion in cyberspace as a psychedelic experience.
The fusion of cyberculture and the psychedelic subculture into a new counterculture of the 1980s and 1990s.
Psychedelic art created by calculating fractal objects and representing the calculation results as still images, animations, music, or other media.
Rave dance parties where DJs and other performers play psychedelic trance music, with the accompaniment of laser light shows, projected images, and artificial fog. Attendees often use "club drugs".DeepDream
DeepDream is a computer vision program created by Google engineer Alexander Mordvintsev which uses a convolutional neural network to find and enhance patterns in images via algorithmic pareidolia, thus creating a dream-like hallucinogenic appearance in the deliberately over-processed images.Google's program popularized the term (deep) "dreaming" to refer to the generation of images that produce desired activations in a trained deep network, and the term now refers to a collection of related approaches.Flower power
Flower power was a slogan used during the late 1960s and early 1970s as a symbol of passive resistance and non-violence ideology. It is rooted in the opposition movement to the Vietnam War. The expression was coined by the American Beat poet Allen Ginsberg in 1965 as a means to transform war protests into peaceful affirmative spectacles. Hippies embraced the symbolism by dressing in clothing with embroidered flowers and vibrant colors, wearing flowers in their hair, and distributing flowers to the public, becoming known as flower children. The term later became generalized as a modern reference to the hippie movement and the so-called counterculture of drugs, psychedelic music, psychedelic art and social permissiveness.Fractal art
Fractal art is a form of algorithmic art created by calculating fractal objects and representing the calculation results as still images, animations, and media. Fractal art developed from the mid-1980s onwards. It is a genre of computer art and digital art which are part of new media art. The mathematical beauty of fractals lies at the intersection of generative art and computer art. They combine to produce a type of abstract art.
Fractal art (especially in the western world) is rarely drawn or painted by hand. It is usually created indirectly with the assistance of fractal-generating software, iterating through three phases: setting parameters of appropriate fractal software; executing the possibly lengthy calculation; and evaluating the product. In some cases, other graphics programs are used to further modify the images produced. This is called post-processing. Non-fractal imagery may also be integrated into the artwork. The Julia set and Mandelbrot sets can be considered as icons of fractal art.It was assumed that fractal art could not have developed without computers because of the calculative capabilities they provide. Fractals are generated by applying iterative methods to solving non-linear equations or polynomial equations. Fractals are any of various extremely irregular curves or shapes for which any suitably chosen part is similar in shape to a given larger or smaller part when magnified or reduced to the same size.Head shop
A head shop is a retail outlet specializing in paraphernalia used for consumption of cannabis and tobacco and items related to cannabis culture and related countercultures. They emerged from the hippie counterculture in the late 1960s, and at that time many of them had close ties to the anti-Vietnam War movement as well as groups in the marijuana legalization movement like LeMar, Amorphia, and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.Products sold may include magazines (e.g., about cannabis culture, cannabis cultivation, tattooing, and music), clothing, and home décor (e.g., posters and wall hangings illustrating drug culture themes such as cannabis, jam bands like The Grateful Dead, psychedelic art, etc.). Some head shops also sell oddities, such as antique walking sticks and sex toys. Since the 1980s, some head shops have sold clothing related to the heavy metal or punk subculture, such as band T-shirts and cloth patches with band logos, studded wristbands, bullet belts, and leather boots. Other items offered typically include hashish pipes, "one hitter" pipes; pipe screens; bongs (also referred to as water pipes); roach clips (used for smoking the end of a marijuana "joint"); vaporizers used for inhaling THC vapour from cannabis; rolling papers; rolling machines; small weighing scales; small ziplock baggies; cannabis grinders; blacklight-responsive posters and blacklights; incense; cigarette lighters; "stashes", which include a range of standard consumer products such as clocks, books, tins of cleaning powder, and toilet brushes which have hidden compartments for cannabis and non-camouflaged "stash boxes" which are tins or wooden containers for storing marijuana; and legal highs such as whipped-cream chargers (which contain nitrous oxide) and Salvia divinorum (both of which are illegal in some countries and some US states for recreational purposes). Some head shops also sell items used for home cultivation of marijuana plants, such as hydroponic equipment and lights and guidebooks on cultivation. Since the 2000s, some head shops also sell e-cigarettes and the flavoured liquids used with these devices.Jack and the Witch
Jack and the Witch (少年ジャックと魔法使い, Shōnen Jakku to Mahōtsukai, literally "The Boy Jack and the Witch") is a Japanese animated fantasy adventure feature film, the 10th cinema feature produced by Tōei Animation (then Tōei Dōga), released in Japan in 1967. It was developed by Jirō Sekimasa, Seiichi Moro and Takeshi Ariga, written by Shin'ichi Sekizawa and Susumu Takaku and directed by Taiji Yabushita and has an essentially original story, though one which alludes in structure and character names to the Jack tales and Beowulf, both of English folklore. A working title for the film was Fushigina Sekai no Daibōken (ふしぎな世界の大冒険, "Great Adventure in a Strange Land"). The animation director is Akira Daikuhara.
It is one of a number of Tōei Dōga features licensed by the television division of American International Pictures and localised by Titan Productions, Jack's English-dubbed version being directed by Peter Solmo and made available for syndication starting in 1969. Corinne Orr, of Speed Racer fame, is the voice of Allegra in the English-language version.LSD art
LSD art is any art or visual displays inspired by psychedelic experiences and hallucinations known to follow the ingestion of LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide, which also often colloquially known as "acid" or "azid"). Artists and scientists have been interested in the effect of LSD on drawing and painting since it first became available for legal use and general consumption.LSD causes visual hallucinations, audiovisual synaesthesia, and experiences of de-realisation. When these effects are mixed with an artist, they often illustrate their hallucinations.Peter Max
Peter Max (born Peter Max Finkelstein, October 19, 1937) is an American artist known for using bright colours in his work. Works by Max are associated with the visual arts and culture of the 1960s, particularly psychedelic art and pop art.Pomegranate (publisher)
Pomegranate Communications is a publishing and printing company formerly based in Petaluma, California, having moved to Portland, Oregon in 2013. The company, founded by Thomas F. Burke, began by publishing works of psychedelic art from San Francisco in 1968 under the name ThoFra Distributors. It distributed posters for concerts at Avalon Ballroom and The Fillmore.
Anchored in visual arts, Pomegranate was active in book publishing in the past as well, especially during the 1990s. Adjustments in that sector caused it to reduce involvement accordingly. Currently calendars - long a mainstay - remain a strong part of their catalog, and puzzles are important as well.In its current form, Pomegranate is best described as a museum publisher, collaborating with institutions such as the National Gallery of Art, the Library of Congress, the British Library, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the Sierra Club, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It is the licensee for artists M. C. Escher, Edward Gorey, Charley Harper, Wolf Kahn, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Gustave Baumann.Psychedelia
Psychedelia is the subculture, originating in the 1960s, of people who often use psychedelic drugs such as LSD, mescaline (found in peyote) and psilocybin (found in some mushrooms). The term is also used to describe a style of psychedelic artwork and psychedelic music. Psychedelic art and music typically try to recreate or reflect the experience of altered consciousness. Psychedelic art uses highly distorted and surreal visuals, bright colors and full spectrums and animation (including cartoons) to evoke and convey to a viewer or listener the artist's experience while using such drugs, or to enhance the experience of a user of these drugs. Psychedelic music uses distorted electric guitar, Indian music elements such as the sitar, electronic effects, sound effects and reverberation, and elaborate studio effects, such as playing tapes backwards or panning the music from one side to another.
The term "psychedelic" is derived from the Ancient Greek words psychē (ψυχή, "soul") and dēloun (δηλοῦν, "to make visible, to reveal"), translating to "soul-revealing".
A psychedelic experience is characterized by the striking perception of aspects of one's mind previously unknown, or by the creative exuberance of the mind liberated from its ostensibly ordinary fetters. Psychedelic states are an array of experiences including changes of perception such as hallucinations, synesthesia, altered states of awareness or focused consciousness, variation in thought patterns, trance or hypnotic states, mystical states, and other mind alterations. These processes can lead some people to experience changes in mental operation defining their self-identity (whether in momentary acuity or chronic development) different enough from their previous normal state that it can excite feelings of newly formed understanding such as revelation, enlightenment, confusion, and psychosis.
Psychedelic states may be elicited by various techniques, such as meditation, sensory stimulation or deprivation, and most commonly by the use of psychedelic substances. When these psychoactive substances are used for religious, shamanic, or spiritual purposes, they are termed entheogens.Psychedelic era
The Psychedelic era was the time of social, musical and artistic change influenced by psychedelic drugs, occurring between the years of 1965–69 or the early 1960s to the mid-1970s. Psychedelic drug use encouraged unity, the breaking down of boundaries, the heightening of political awareness, empathy with others, and the questioning of authority..
Writers who explored the potentials of consciousness exploration in the psychedelic era included Alan Watts, Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, and Ram Dass among others; an important journal of the time was The Psychedelic Review.Psychedelic film
Psychedelic film is a film genre characterized by the influence of psychedelia and the experiences of psychedelic drugs. Psychedelic films typically contain visual distortion and experimental narratives, often emphasizing psychedelic imagery. They might reference drugs directly, or merely present a distorted reality resembling the effects of psychedelic drugs. Their experimental narratives often purposefully try to distort the viewers' understanding of reality or normality.Psychedelic music
Psychedelic music (sometimes called psychedelia) is a wide range of popular music styles and genres influenced by 1960s psychedelia, a subculture of people who used psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, mescaline and DMT to experience visual and auditory hallucinations, synesthesia and altered states of consciousness. Psychedelic music may also aim to enhance the experience of using these drugs.
Psychedelic music emerged during the 1960s among folk and rock bands in the United States and the United Kingdom, creating the subgenres of psychedelic folk, psychedelic rock, acid rock, and psychedelic pop before declining in the early 1970s. Numerous spiritual successors followed in the ensuing decades, including progressive rock, krautrock, and heavy metal. Since the 1970s, revivals have included psychedelic funk, neo-psychedelia, and psychedelic hip hop, as well as psychedelic electronic music genres such as acid house, trance music, and new rave.The Joshua Light Show
The Joshua Light Show, created by Joshua White, was a liquid light show. It was known for its psychedelic art and served as a lighting backdrop behind many live band performances during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Joshua White studied electrical engineering, theatrical lighting, and magic lantern techniques at Carnegie Tech and also film making at University of Southern California. Performances were held every weekend.
The light shows used multiple image-making devices including film projectors, slide projectors, overhead projectors, color wheels, watercolors, oil colors, and glass crystals. These all would be arranged on two levels for their performances. The Joshua Light Show based their shows on four elements; projection of pure color, concrete imagery, variety of color effects and shaping of the light.Tony McPhee
Anthony Charles McPhee (born 23 March 1944) is an English blues guitarist, and founder of The Groundhogs. An early version of this band backed Champion Jack Dupree and John Lee Hooker on UK concerts in the mid-1960s. He is often credited as 'Tony (T.S.) McPhee'. He was given this name by the producer Mike Vernon who suggested adding 'T.S.' to his name when McPhee released a duet single with Champion Jack Dupree in 1966 called Get Your Head Happy, in order to make it look more like an official blues name. It stands for Tough Shit.The Groundhogs evolved into a blues-rock trio that produced three UK Top 10 hits in the UK Albums Chart in the early 1970s. Although they have continued to play in various line-ups to the present day, McPhee officially retired from the band in 2015.Solo album The Two Sides of Tony (T.S.) McPhee was released in 1973. Side A of this record is blues rock and Side B is a single psychedelic art rock electronic composition, featuring Arp 2600 Synthesizers, Electric Piano and The Rhythm Ace Drum Synthesizer exploring McPhee's strong stance against Fox and Stag-Hunting. McPhee has also released many other solo acoustic blues records, as well as duets with Jo Ann Kelly.Apart from the Groundhogs, McPhee has played with Herbal Mixture, the John Dummer Band, Hapshash and the Coloured Coat, Tony McPhee's Terraplane, Tony McPhee's Turbo, the Tony McPhee Band and Current 93.In 2009, McPhee suffered a stroke which affected his speech and ability to sing.McPhee's definitive biography, written by Paul Freestone was published in 2012.Tony Sings the Great Hits of Today!
Tony Sings the Great Hits of Today! is a 1970 album by American classic pop and jazz singer Tony Bennett. Done under pressure from his record company for more marketable material, it featured attempts at the Beatles and other current songs and a psychedelic art cover. Both critics and Bennett himself have viewed the album as a career-low.Visionary art
Visionary art is art that purports to transcend the physical world and portray a wider vision of awareness including spiritual or mystical themes, or is based in such experiences.