This Is Your Portrait On Drugs

In the 1950s, a researcher supplied an artist with two 50-microgram doses of LSD and asked him to sketch a series of portraits as the drug took effect:

Dan Colman provides more background:

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.

The mystery artist gave updates as the acid ran its course:

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. …

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

A few years ago we posted a similar series of self-portraits from Bryan Lewis Saunders, who experimented with dozens of different drugs, with fascinating results. Here is “1 ‘Bump’ of Crystalmeth”:


Many more here.