Artatomical: Alex Grey's Psychedelic 'Dying'


"Dying" by Alex Grey AlexGrey.com

As we're re-publishing our two-part series on psychedelics, "The Scientist and the Shaman" this week, it's the perfect time to give Alex Grey the Artatomical treatment here. Born in 1953, Grey stands at the forefront of psychedelic art. He frequently explores spiritual matters in his work, but almost always with a grounding in human physiology.

In fact, Grey spent five years studying anatomy at Harvard Medical School. So as with so many great masters of anatomic art before him, the details in his work stem from the actual dissection of human cadavers. This is not an artist who tackles the human form lightly.

I chose the 1990 painting "Dying" because it ties in nicely with some of our discussion of psychedelics and death, which we also covered in the podcast episode "Touching the Void."

Grey himself describes the painting as follows: "An ectoplasmic wisp of a soul exits the top of the head and ascends through a tunnel of infinite awareness toward the clear white light."

Explore more of Alex Grey's mind-blowing art at AlexGrey.com -- and yes, you can buy a print of "Dying" right here.


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.