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Psychedelic Art Analysis

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We Ate the Acid: A Note on Psychedelic Imagery “Symbols – symbols every where. All along my journey they flashed forth the apocalypse of utterly unimagined truths.” – Fitz Hugh Ludlow Psychedelic art typically contains a number of recurring motifs. Examples include circles, spirals, eyes, concentric shapes, grids, landscapes, nudity, long hair, skeletons and mushrooms. Other common motifs are various kinds of non-human animals, vegetation, space scenery and mandalas. And when humans and objects are featured, they are occasionally seen in x-ray. Furthermore, psychedelic art is usually – but not always – characterised by intense, contrasting colours. There may also be a liquid quality to objects, where it looks as if they are melting. Obviously,…show more content…
Surely, there are numerous other motifs and features an artist could think of using. The images that one is exposed to while under the influence of psychedelics often display a huge variety, yet in the vast majority of cases the same motifs are used ad infinitum. For example, why is the eye such an omnipresent element in psychedelic art? Huge numbers of artworks, posters, book covers, album covers and leaflets feature the eye. From an outsider this could almost be seen as a pathological obsession. Although this piece is only a brief introduction to psychedelic imagery, it will hopefully spark some further interest in this fairly unexplored…show more content…
Obviously, there are many ways of reaching altered states of consciousness (ASC). Besides mind-altering substances, ASC can be reached through techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises or fasting, to name a few, and artworks inspired by non-psychedelic altered states can certainly come across as having been the result of someone taking psychedelics. When discussing artworks that have a psychedelic “feel” but probably did not involve any mind-altering substances, writers and researchers sometimes refer to these works as having a “psychedelic sensibility.” The English poet and artist William Blake (1757-1827) is a perfect example of someone who made such works. Although there is no record of Blake using psychedelics, many people regard him as an important figure in the history of psychedelia. This is mostly thanks to Aldous Huxley, whose seminal 1954 trip report The Doors of Perception takes its title from a phrase in Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and
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