New Book on The Psychedelic Art Revolution

By Jeff Forester 07/22/11

Are you experienced... at viewing art under the influence?

Visual history of psychedelics.
Photo via thinkstockphotos

In his new book, Are You Experienced?: How Psychedelic Consciousness Transformed Modern Art, New York Times art critic Ken Johnson claims that the psychedelic culture had a profound and lasting impact on modern visual arts. And not just album covers and comic books. Filtered through Johnson's own stoned experiences, and interviews with current artistic luminaries, Johnson makes the case that the psychedelic movement helped people move beyond the act of viewing art into a deeper experience of it. Johnson told CNN interviewer Emanuella Grinberg that the psychedelic movement “... encourages you to imagine your way into a state of consciousness that may not be your normal state, so you kind of suspend disbelief and allow yourself to be imaginatively seduced into a different way of relating to the world." Noting that musicians like Bob Dylan and John Lennon have long acknowledged the impact LSD had on them, Johnson thought it was reasonable to make the same confession on behalf of the art world. It is time for the role of psychedelics to get their just due, claims Johnson. "There's been kind of a resurgence," he said. "This whole psychedelic thing is still part of our culture. It's not over."

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Jeff Forester is a writer in Minnesota. His book, Forest for the Trees: How Humans Shaped the North Woods, an ecological history of his state's famed Boundary Waters, came out in paperback in 2009. Jeff is the Executive Director of MN Lakes and Rivers Advocates MLR and you can follow him on Twitter.