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An Art Book - Are You Experienced?: How Psychedelic Consciousness Transformed Modern Art


Free - Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Looking at art through the lens of psychedelic experience and culture, The New York Times veteran art critic Ken Johnson reveals an unexpected and illuminating dimension of art since the 1960s in his fascinating new book Are You Experienced?  Johnson gives a lecture on this thought-provoking topic along with a vibrant, full-color slideshow of images from his book, spanning the work of dozens of artists. Artists Deborah Kass and Chris Martin join Ken Johnson in discussing the role that psychedelic culture plays in their work and in the work of their peers.

Art changed in a big way in the 1960s; it was no longer something just to look at and appreciate for its aesthetic qualities. The traditional ideal of connoisseurship was out; art as consciousness-altering experience was in. Boundaries between conventional media such as paintings and sculpture stretched and dissolved. Hierarchical distinctions between high and low culture became irrelevant. Weird new forms proliferated. Would art have developed as it did in the past fifty years, would it be the way it is now, if psychedelics and psychedelic culture had not been so popular? 

To answer this question, Ken Johnson has examined a broad array of art of the past half century, from Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty to Pipilotti Rist’s recent swooningly trippy video installation at the Museum of Modern Art and Richard Serra’s warped, spiraling mazes of inches-thick Corten steel, looking not just for obvious signs of psychedelic style but for an underlying psychedelic ethos animating the art. Extensively illustrated in color, Johnson’s pioneering study may change the way we see contemporary art.

Copies of Are You Experienced?: How Psychedelic Consciousness Transformed Modern Art are available for purchase and signing at the event.

Jules de BalincourtJules de BalincourtDeborah KassDeborah Kass

Ken Johnson is an art critic at The New York Times and contributing editor at Art in America.

Deborah Kass is an artist whose paintings examine the intersection of art history, popular culture and the self.  Her work is in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of Art, The Solomon Guggenheim Museum, The Jewish Museum, as well as numerous museums and private collections. Kass’s work has been shown nationally and internationally at the Venice Biennale and the Museum Ludwig, Cologne among others. She is also a Senior Critic in the Yale University M.F.A. Painting Program. She is represented by Vincent Fremont and the Paul Kasmin Gallery. Deborah Kass: A Mid- Career Retrospective is being organized at the Andy Warhol Museum in 2012.

Born in Washington, DC in 1954, Chris Martin received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 1992 and studied painting at Yale University from 1972 to 1975. Made with an extremely diverse array of materials, his often giant-size paintings put abstraction to the service of vibrant sensory intensity and earnest yet insouciant metaphysical inquiry. He lives and works in Brooklyn and is represented in New York by Mitchell-Innes & Nash gallery.

In its third season the program series An Art Book, initiated and organized by Arezoo Moseni, is a celebration of the essential importance and beauty of art books. The events showcase book presentations and discussions by world renowned artists, critics, curators, historians and writers.