(born November 29, 1953 in Columbus, Ohio) is an artist specializing in spiritual and psychedelic art (or visionary art) that is sometimes associated with the New Age movement. His oeuvre
spans a variety of forms including performance art, installation art, sculpture, and most significantly, painting. Grey is a member of the Integral Institute. He is also on the board of advisors for the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics.Paintings
Grey's paintings can be described as an unusual and contemporary blend of sacred or visionary art and postmodern art; one term used to describe the artist's work is "transpersonal". His work often depicts aspects of the supernatural world overlayed with aspects of the natural world. Some viewers report that elevated or spiritual states are induced while viewing his images, which might be described as the traditional purpose of sacred art. His work has an eclecticism that often integrates auras, human anatomy, religious icons (sometimes reminiscent of thangkas), geometric shapes and tessellations (sometimes reminiscent of mandalas), in natural, industrial, and multicultural situations. The human figures are sometimes shown nude (usually with partially translucent skin), in sexual situations, or in the act of meditation. This incorporation of the "high" and "low", the sacred and secular, gives Grey's art a postmodern feel. However, the sacred aspect essentially expunges any sense of irony often associated with postmodern art (one might cite some people's reactions to the art of Andy Warhol). In contrast, Grey's approach to the human figure is decisively clinical, which conceptually trivializes the spirituality of his work. Regardless, the spiritual aspect provides an organization that enables Grey to overcome his eclecticism; his work may thus be characterized as syncretic.
Grey has also made his own contribution to the philosophy of art in his book The Mission of Art (1998). Therein, he promotes the possibility of the mystical potential of art: he argues that the process of artistic creation can (and should) play a role in the enlightenment of the artist. For him, the process of artistic creation holds the potential of transcending the limitations of the mind and more fully expressing the divine spirit. He also believes that art can induce within the viewer an elevated state wherein spiritual states of being are attained.
In an interview with Ken Wilber for Integral Naked, Grey described an experience of the shared hallucination between him and his wife, which led him to believe in spirituality and spiritual practice.
Painting and Music Groups
Grey's artwork has often been used by music groups on their album covers.
- An album of David Byrne remixes called Visible Man featured Grey's artwork.
- Michael Hedges's album Torched features one of Grey's "Holy Fire" paintings on the cover.
- Nirvana's album In Utero featured Grey's art as album artwork.
- The cover of the String Cheese Incident's album Untying The Not features Grey's work Cosmic Elf, commissioned specifically for the album.
- The rock band Tool has featured Grey's artwork as album artwork for their album Lateralus. He also executed the stage design for Tool for the associated tour that included massive reproductions of the album artwork. Grey also provided the artwork for the 2006 Tool album 10,000 Days.
- Grey's most intimate collaboration with an artist other than his wife, has been with creative director and musical composer Kenji Williams in the 2004 live multimedia performance and DVD Worldspirit - featuring the animated artwork and live spoken word of Alex Grey, coupled with the project direction and live music of Kenji Williams.
- The alleged mystical properties of Grey's artwork are discussed in Stuart Davis' 2006 DVD Between the Music.
In the Media
Grey's artwork has been featured on the cover of Sub Rosa, Newsweek, High Times, Shaman's Drum, Shambhala Sun, Juxtapoz, Vision, and Gnosis.
The Discovery Channel included Grey in a feature on art and creativity in altered states.
The Viking Youth Power Hour interviewed Alex & Allyson Grey about the role of sacred art, the holy shenanigans of Burning Man, and the development of his process.
CoSM: The Movie is the first feature length documentary film based on Alex Grey and is a cinematic journey through his New York gallery, the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors. Directed by Nick Krasnic and available now on DVD through Docurama home video.
In Variable Star, a science fiction novel written by Spider Robinson based on a story outline by Robert A. Heinlein, Robinson devotes several pages to his protagonist's discovery of Grey's Sacred Mirrors and Progress of the Soul series, and to using them to enhance meditation