Art Under The Influence
Artists and their work have long been inextricably linked to drug use. From Ernest Hemingway’s personality-defining struggles with alcoholism to the heroin addiction that left burgeoning visual artist Basquiat on death’s front stoop, the expansive creativity of the innovative artist’s mind seems to have a strong desire to experiment with and abuse substances.
While often detrimental to their personal lives, and in some cases deadly, artists persisted in using mind-altering drugs to push their psyches into unexplored territory, to create new pathways through which their artistry could flow – or sometimes they just used them to keep up with their desire to create. As a result, many of our most prized works of art have either been heavily informed by drugs, or were created while under their influence…
I’ll never look at a double helix the same way again…
Aldous Huxley: The Doors Of Perception
Famed writer of Brave New World Huxley frequently experimented with the use of mescaline, a drug with similar hallucinogenic effects to that of LSD. Huxley even wrote a book about his experience using the drug over the course of one special afternoon entitled The Doors of Perception (named for a William Blake poem.) The book gives detailed insight into his thought process on the drug as well as an analysis afterwards, including his personal reflections on art and religion. Side note: on Huxley’s deathbed he asked to be injected with copious amounts of mescaline so he was high as balls on the drug as he slowly faded from this world.
Nan Goldin: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency
World renowned photographer Nan Goldin photographed what she called her “tribe” (a group of people who were mostly members of the hardcore 1980s drug subculture in NYC’s post-punk party scene in the lower Bowery district) in series called “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency.” Nan’s drugs of choice? Heroin and cocaine. But “I never smoked crack,” said Nan to The Guardian in a recent interview. “There is something genetic inside me that is about surviving, but, so many people I know have gone that I do have survivor’s guilt.” Nan once famously described her photographic work as “the diary I let people read,” and her photographs definitely have a few words to say about the prevalent drug culture in the city at that time.