LSD art

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A drawing of a face, made under the effects of LSD. Dr. Oscar Janiger noted similarities between paintings made under the influence of the drug and those made by schizophrenics.

Artists and scientists have been interested in the effect of LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide, which also often colloquially known as "acid" or "azid")[1] on drawing and painting since it first became available for legal use and general consumption.[2] Dr. Oscar Janiger was one of the pioneers in the field studying the relationship between LSD and creativity.[3] 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".[3] Janiger maintained that trained artists could "maintain a certain balance, riding the edge" of the LSD induced psychosis, "ride his creative Pegasus".[3] Janiger coined the term '"dry schizophrenia," where a person was able to control the surroundings and yet be "crazy" at the same time'.[3]

LSD causes visual hallucinations, audiovisual synaesthesia, and experiences of de-realisation.[1] When these effects are mixed with an artist, they often illustrate their hallucinations. LSD also changes personality, and brings out pure emotion from the person under the influence of the drug. Artists often create their best artworks when they show emotion and put true meaning into the work.[4]

Many artists and their surviving relatives have kept LSD artwork from this period. One patient of Dr. Janiger, bipolar and alcoholic artist Frank Murdoch,[5] was given 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).[citation needed] Murdoch also continued to paint as an artist while on LSD,[6] including most of his underwater paintings.[7]

In the Netherlands, Dr. Stanislav Grof practiced "LSD Psychotherapy" in the 1980s, which included having his patients paint on LSD. Some of his artist patients painted numerous paintings while on LSD.[4]


LSD art dates back to the 1960s, where it became very common as well.[8] The drug became so popular, that some countries started banning the substance in 1967.[9] A French artist by the name of Henri Michaux, was considered “a pioneer in psychedelic art”. Michaux experimented with LSD while creating his now famous book, 'Miserable Miracle', which included both his writings and drawings.[8] Many artists realised how LSD could also positively influence their artwork, which is why it was so popular throughout the 1960s.

LSD art is not as common now as it was in the 1960s, but some modern artists still use the drug to channel their creativity.[8]

See also[edit]

Psychedelic artists[edit]


  1. ^ a b Schmid, Yasmin; Enzler, Florian; Gasser, Peter; Grouzmann, Eric; Preller, Katrin H.; Vollenweider, Franz X.; Brenneisen, Rudolf; Müller, Felix; Borgwardt, Stefan (2015-10-15). "Acute Effects of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide in Healthy Subjects". Biological Psychiatry. 78 (8): 544–553. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.11.015. ISSN 0006-3223. 
  2. ^ P.G. Stafford and B.H. Golightly. LSD — The Problem-Solving Psychedelic. 
  3. ^ a b c d David Jay (2003). Oscar Janiger. 
  4. ^ a b Stanislav Grof (1980). Tripscapes: LSD Art From Stan Grof's Psychedelic Epic – LSD Psychotherapy. 
  5. ^ Lynn Svensson (2006). Looking For Frank Murdoch: The LSD Experiments. 
  6. ^ Lynn Svensson (2006). Looking For Frank Murdoch: LSD pages. 
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-02-12. Retrieved 2010-03-20. 
  8. ^ a b c "Reflections On The Direct Influence Of Psychedelics On Art -". Retrieved 2016-05-17. 
  9. ^ "The History of LSD - Acid, Albert Hoffman & Timothy Leary - Drug-Free World". Retrieved 2016-05-17. 

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