Two great new books of psychedelic art and the work of H.R. Giger

giger stan Giger mapsThe work of the Swiss artist H.R. Giger, who died in 2014, occupies a unique place in 20th century art. His nightmarish, claustrophobic visions express some of the deepest recesses of the human psyche, both individual and collective. They have particularly drawn the attention of the pioneering psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, who has provided uniquely profound elucidations of the monstrous destructiveness of the collective psyche of modernity.

These two magnificent art volumes contain numerous illustrations of Giger’s art, as well as that of other artists, and the commentaries by Stanislav Grof.

One volume, entitled HR Giger and the Zeitgeist of the Twentieth Century is published by the Swiss publisher Nachtschatten Verlag.  It has mostly Giger’s art, but also some of the paintings from Grof’s patients in psychedelic, perinatal and holotropic therapy. It has the bilingual (German and English) texts of essays by Grof and a foreword by art historian Claudia Müller-Ebeling.

The other, even more recent volume is by Stanislav Grof, published by the MAPS organization and titled Modern Consciousness Research and the Understanding of Art, and includes an extended essay again on The Visionary World of H.R. Giger. Besides Giger’s art, the volume also includes magnificent full color illustrations of the visionary and surrealist art of Ernst Fuchs, Mati Klarwein, Roberto Venosa, Martina Hoffmann, Alex Grey, Android Jones and others. And Grof’s text include his comments on art and the unconscious as seen in the writings of Freud, Otto Rank, Carl Jung, Erich Neumann and others, as well as the detailed correlations with the experiences in the perinatal matrices.

In my commentary on this work, on the book’s back cover, I wrote that “we marvel at the startling correlations between the healer’s insights and the artist’s visions. Both have given powerful expression to the apocalyptic violence and destructiveness seething beneath the surface of 20th century mass-mind mentality. In the recognition of these unconscious processes, there is great hope that humanity may find a way back to a saner and healthier balance.”

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