Psychedelic Art

Psychedelic Art generally refers to art that has been influenced by hallucinogenic drugs. However, it may also refer to the art of the 1960s counter-culture movement. Some people relate art that is a visual depiction of kaleidoscopic-like patterns to the Psychedelic Art movement. The movement was closely linked to the psychedelic music of the 1960s as well and was evident in both concert posters and record album covers.



The discovery of LSD and its subsequent popularity as an agent that produces altered states of consciousness was at the core of the Psychedelic Art movement; however, other drugs were also used as a means of inducing certain types of artistic expressions. Various poster artists of San Francisco were responsible for launching the Psychedelic Art movement during the 1960s such as Rick Griffon, Wes Wilson, and Victor Moscoso. The psychedelic style peaked between 1966 and 1972. Many works, especially evident in concert and event posters, depicted a strong color palette—usually of contrasting colors—along with ornate lettering, and kaleidoscopic swirls. The art of this period also reflected Art Nouveau and Victorian influences.

As the movement progressed, many other artists became associated with the artistic style of Psychedelic Art. Some of these artists included Peter Max, Mati Klarwein, Pablo Amaringo, Roger Dean, and Robert Williams. Even the artist Salvador Dali became associated with the Psychedelic Art style. Psychedelic Art usually featured other elements, as well, that became major components of the style. Spirals could often be found in Psychedelic works as well as concentric circles and a repetition of motifs or symbols. Collage is important to the Psychedelic style and many works could also be included in the collage genre. Surrealist subject matter was another major component of the style. Certain exotic motifs like paisley were also at the heart of many Psychedelic works.

The Psychedelic movement had a strong influence on comic book artists who created an underground genre of comic book art known as “underground comix.” Robert Crumb was one of its chief proponents. Comic books influenced by the Psychedelic movement were often satirical in nature and exhibited many artistic traits of other Psychedelic works. Many Psychedelic works are famous for their visually captivating styles, but the movement also generated considerable controversy for its links to illicit substances. Posters for music festivals like Woodstock are typical examples of Psychedelic Art posters. Bands like The Who and the Jimi Hendrix Experience also featured Psychedelic Art on some of their album covers.