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A day that sparked psychedelic art experiments

Art that took a trip

Around 83 years ago from today, on May 12, 1938, the Sandoz Labs begins manufacturing lysergic acid diethylamide, more popularly known as LSD or acid.

Artists and scientists have been interested in the effect of LSD on drawing and painting since it first became available for legal use in parts of the world. LSD causes visual hallucinations, audiovisual synaesthesia, and experiences of de-realisation. When these effects are mixed with an artist, they often illustrate their hallucinations.

One of the pioneers in the field studying the relationship between LSD and creativity is Dr Oscar Janiger. He invited over 100 professional artists to produce over 250 paintings and drawings while on acid trips.

His colleague Marlene Dobkin de Rios wrote in her definitive book on his work, “All of the artists who participated in Janiger’s project said that LSD not only radically changed their style but also gave them new depths to understand the use of color, form, light, or the way these things are viewed in a frame of reference.”

Janiger also noted similarities between paintings made under the influence of the drug and those made by schizophrenics.

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In a more recent experiment, Reddit user whatafinethrowaway asked her friend to draw self-portraits on LSD. The friend took 200µg of and drew 11 self-portraits over 9+ hours of her trip, which became increasingly fearsome and wild.

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(Abir Pothi does not condone illegal consumption of narcotic substances.)