Artist Draws Nine Portraits on LSD During 1950s Research Experiment

During the 1950s, a researcher gave an artist two 50-microgram doses of LSD (each dose separated by about an hour), and then the artist was encouraged to draw pictures of the doctor who administered the drugs. Nine portraits were drawn over the space of eight hours. We still don’t know the identity of the artist. But it’s surmised that the researcher was Oscar Janiger, a University of California-Irvine psychiatrist known for his work on LSD. The web site Live Science has Andrew Sewell, a Yale Psychiatry professor (until his recent death), on record saying: “I believe the pictures are from an experiment conducted by the psychiatrist Oscar Janiger starting in 1954 and continuing for seven years, during which time he gave LSD to over 100 professional artists and measured its effects on their artistic output and creative ability. Over 250 drawings and paintings were produced.” The goal, of course, was to investigate what happens to subjects under the influence of psychedelic drugs. During the experiment, the artist explained how he felt as he worked on each sketch. You can watch how things unfolded below (or above):

20 Minutes After First Dose. Artist Claims to Feel Normal

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85 Minutes After First Dose: Artist Says “I can see you clearly. I’m having a little trouble controlling this pencil.”

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2 hours 30 minutes after first dose. “I feel as if my consciousness is situated in the part of my body that’s now active – my hand, my elbow… my tongue.”

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2 hours 32 minutes: ‘I’m trying another drawing… The outline of my hand is going weird too. It’s not a very good drawing is it?”

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2 hours 35 minutes: Patient follows quickly with another drawing. ‘I’ll do a drawing in one flourish… without stopping… one line, no break!”

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2 hours 45 minutes: Agitated patient says “I am… everything is… changed… they’re calling… your face… interwoven… who is…” He changes medium to Tempera.

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4 hours 25 minutes: After taking a break, the patient changes to pen and water color. “This will be the best drawing, like the first one, only better.”

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5 hours 45 minutes. “I think it’s starting to wear off. This pencil is mighty hard to hold.” (He is holding a crayon).

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8 hours later: The intoxication has worn off. Patient offers up a final drawing.

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Related Content:

Ken Kesey’s First LSD Trip Animated

Beyond Timothy Leary: 2002 Film Revisits History of LSD

Aldous Huxley’s Most Beautiful, LSD-Assisted Death: A Letter from His Widow



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  1. Ed Minister says . . . | October 15, 2013 / 11:39 am

    The model grew stubble in 8 hours!

  2. vtorgonz says . . . | October 15, 2013 / 8:09 pm

    Image for 5 hours 45 mins is a duplicate…

  3. noche says . . . | October 18, 2013 / 12:11 am

    This had me laughing out loud. The hysterical laughter and startling of the floor was classic!

  4. wildmother says . . . | December 21, 2013 / 8:49 pm

    what’s the point? artistically pictures 5,6,7 (same as 8) are the best.

  5. ken Zablotsky says . . . | June 23, 2014 / 9:20 pm

    Yes iwas down in Palm Springs Calf. Usa this winter and I went up into the mountains North of Palm Spring to Jawshawa Tree and went to a estate home up in the high hills and there was a lot of old art being cleared out from the estate Sale .The one piece that interesed me was a pice of art that was created by the artist under LSD and it is so beautiful . It is very spiritual of the coolong of the sun sphere ,in the end of time . It had a write up with it as to how it was created under the drug . It was all dirty and dusty but excellent shape and was hard to see the art work untill I got it home and cleaned it up ,and it is beautifull and they say that some of the great art then was created under the influence of LSD . You can see the art on Saskatoon Kijiji art for sale listing or email me for pictures of it for I would like to know more thank you

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