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Hearing Colors (effect of Lsd on Art)

Autor:   •  December 11, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,015 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,582 Views

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Hearing Colors

“... Little by little, I could begin to enjoy the unprecedented colors and plays of shapes that persisted behind my closed eyes. Kaleidoscopic, fantastic images surged in on me, alternating, variegated, opening, and then closing themselves in circles and spirals, exploding in colored fountains, rearranging and hybridizing themselves in constant flux ...”

-Albert Hofmann

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. Dr. Oscar Janiger was one of the pioneers in the field studying the relationship between LSD and creativity. What fascinated Janiger was that paintings, under the influence of LSD, had some of the attributes of what looked like the work done by schizophrenics. Janiger maintained that trained artists could maintain a certain balance, riding the edge of the LSD induced psychosis and ride his creative Pegasus. Janiger also coined the term “dry schizophrenia,” where a person was able to control the surroundings and yet be “crazy” at the same time (Janiger).

Many artists and their surviving relatives have kept LSD artwork from this period. One patient of Dr. Janiger, bipolar and alcoholic artist Frank Murdoch, received a controlled, experimental dose of LSD for several months as an attempt to cure his late stage alcoholism. Janiger had Murdoch paint still-lives both on and off LSD (including a Kachina doll that he reportedly had 70 other patients also paint). Murdoch also continued to paint as an artist while on LSD, including most of his underwater paintings (Strafford and Golightly).

LSD historian Jay Stevens, author of the book Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream, has said that, in the early days of its recreational use, LSD users (who were at that time mostly academics and medical professional people). fell into two broadly delineated groups. The first group, which was essentially conservative and exemplified by Huxley, felt that LSD was too powerful and too dangerous to allow its immediate and widespread introduction, and that its use ought to be restricted to the 'elite' members of society who could mediate its gradual distribution throughout society. The second and more radical group, typified by Alpert and Leary, felt that LSD had the power to revolutionize society and that it should be spread as widely as possible and be available to all. During the 1960s, this second 'group' of casual LSD users evolved and expanded into a subculture that extolled the mystical and religious symbolism often engendered by the drug's powerful effects, and advocated its use as a method of raising consciousness. The personalities associated with the subculture, gurus such as Dr. Timothy Leary and psychedelic rock musicians such as the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane and The


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