Top 7 Psychedelic Artworks
• Sometimes, looking at a painting or reading a book, one wants to ask the author what substances he used when writing his “masterpiece”. But there are real masterpieces of art inspired by hallucinations. Here is their list.
7. Harlequin Carnival, Joan Miro
• For the Catalan artist Joan Miro, the expression "an artist must be hungry" was not an empty phrase, but a sad reality. Experiencing financial difficulties, he often went to bed without dinner.
«I was trying to convey the hallucinations that hunger caused. I depicted not what I saw in a dream, as the surrealists often did, but what caused hunger: (it is) a form of trance”, Miro said about himself.
• These hungry hallucinations are reflected in several paintings, including Harlequin Carnival. The seeming disorder of random objects is in fact the fruit of careful composition, as Miro's preparatory sketches prove.
6. Infinite Mirror Room, Yayoi Kusama
• The work of this Japanese artist is a mixture of abstract expressionism and conceptual art, which is characterized by graphic, colorful and somewhat futuristic imagery.
• One of Kusama's most famous works is the Mirror Rooms (there are over 20 of them). Each of these rooms allows the viewer to lose their identity and sense of being in the infinity of a repeating image. No wonder there are signs in front of the entrance warning that being in a mirror room can harm people suffering from epilepsy or mental disorders.
• As a child, Kusama was physically abused by her mother, which led to hallucinations and suicidal thoughts. She perceived the patterns moving, multiplying, and finally consuming her, a process Kusama called "self-destruction". She began to draw her visions, and creativity, in her opinion, helped her to control anxiety and release strong psychological upheavals.
“If it weren’t for art, I would have committed suicide long ago,” the artist loves to repeat.
• Kusama's art is in high demand, with her paintings selling for millions of dollars. For example, the work "White No. 28" was sold for 7,1 million dollars.
5. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
• English writer Charles Dickens (1812-1879) experienced hypnagogic hallucinations – fleeting perceptual experiences during the transition from wakefulness to sleep. He also suffered from insomnia.
• His characters experience similar conditions, including insomnia, hypnagogic hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and nightmares. One example of the description of such hallucinations can be found in "A Christmas Carol", when Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by ghosts, leaving the hero unsure whether this is a dream or reality.
4. Nausea, Jean-Paul Sartre
• In 1935, the French existentialist philosopher, writer and playwright Jean-Paul Sartre decided to embark on a special journey. He persuaded his friend, the physician Daniel Lagache, to inject him with the psychedelic mescaline, which at the time was used to treat alcoholism and depression.
• As a result, Sartre experienced a "bad journey". Bizarre, frightening crustaceans began to haunt him, and ordinary objects turned into animals, for example, a watch turned into an owl, and an umbrella into a vulture.
• Sartre's adventure ended in a mental breakdown. After that, the writer realized that the crabs chasing him symbolized the fear of loneliness.
• In Sartre's 1938 novel Nausea, there is a scene in which the protagonist dreams that he is trapped in a garden full of insects and crab-walking animals.
3. Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift
• In the last three years of his life, Swift (1667-1745) experienced symptoms similar to those of Ménière's disease, including cognitive changes, memory impairment, personality changes, language disorders, and facial paralysis.
• Some scholars of Swift's work believe that the giant inhabitants of Brobdingnag and the tiny inhabitants of Lilliput in the novel are based on Swift's own visual hallucinations.
2. The Garden of Earthly Delights, Hieronymus Bosch
• Anyone who saw The Garden of Earthly Delights must have wondered what, besides the ardent religious beliefs of Hieronymus Bosch, inspired him to create such a picture.
• To say that Bosch's creation is whimsical is to characterize this triptych extremely mildly. Strange architecture, part floral, part stone; hybrid creatures; naked men and women performing acrobatic or sexual acts; people riding horses, camels, mules, boars, bulls and unicorns are just some of the surreal images in the central panel of the triptych, which depicts scenes of an earthly paradise filled with lust. They precede even more gruesome images of hell in the right panel.
• Roger Blench, author of The Hallucinatory Hieronymus Bosch: The Charles Bonnet Syndrome? briefly assesses the possibility that Bosch's imagery is associated with episodes of the Charles Bonnet syndrome, also known as "sane hallucinations".
• According to Blench, there is reason to consider the artist's works as hallucinations transferred to the canvas.
1. Scream, Edvard Munch
• Edvard Munch (1863-1944) suffered from visual and auditory hallucinations and was committed to a psychiatric hospital in 1908.
Here is how Munch himself explains the origin of his famous, albeit disturbing, painting The Scream (1893):I was walking along the road with two friends. Then the sun went down. The sky suddenly turned blood red and I felt something like melancholy. I stopped, leaning against the railing, dead tired. Clouds of dripping, bubbling blood hung over the blue-black fjord and city. My friends have moved on again. I stood there, frightened, with an open wound in my chest. An endless cry pierced nature».
• An obvious visual hallucination was creatively transformed by Munch into a work of art. This work took 18 months.