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The Mission of Art

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  657 ratings  ·  45 reviews
This is an inspirational book about art's power to bring about personal catharsis and spiritual awakening. Alex Grey's reflections combine his extensive knowledge of art history and his own first-hand experiences in creating art on the boundaries of consciousness. Included are practical techniques and exercises that can be used to explore the spiritual dimension of art. Ch ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published March 13th 2001 by Shambhala (first published December 1st 1998)
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Average rating 4.31  · 
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 ·  657 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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Jorge Rubén
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book by focusing on the subject and kind words/soul of Alex Gray. Maybe you won't agree with him in a lot of things, specially because he has a really unique and mystic way of looking at life. But!, his call for a visionary kind of art which embodies the past positive-trascendental art towards a better humanity and its possible application in the postmodern landscape is exquisite. Humankind seems to have fallen into a nihilistic approach as a general rule of thumb, but art, as Ale ...more
Sep 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: art, contemporary-art
I loved the art of Alex Grey while I was growing up, his work partially inspired me to take art classes at my high school which eventually led me to major in art while attending college. Back then I loved Grey's use of symbolism and his unique artistic vision which led me to other highly symbolic contemporary artists like Anselm Kiefer. I found this book on a bargain shelf and decided to give it a go because, lets face it, most artists aren't able to articulate their vision in words and I always ...more
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
[updated with s'more quotes, sorry for any typos] Incredibly inspired and inspiring, and more timely than ever. I started typing some of my favorite passages below, but there are too many to include them all. Alex Grey offers a beautiful and richly woven perspective on art, being, humanity, and the world which insists upon the belief that nihilism is no way to live life.

“Today’s culture of high rationality has been dubbed postmodern, because we have deconstructed reason and language itself, find
Anna at A Wondrous Bookshelf
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is a must for any artist to better understand the spiritual dimensions of art and the roles of conscience and intention in the creative process.
Aug 12, 2021 rated it liked it
This was an interesting blend of art history, dharma, and manifesto. As a fan of Alex and Allyson Grey's art, this book explained their artistic approaches as well as the purpose behind the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors and their connected non-profit, while also offering a lot of insight into the creative process and where it can connect with spirituality. ...more
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly inspired and inspiring, and more timely than ever. I started typing some of my favorite passages below, but there are too many to include them all. Alex Grey offers a beautiful and richly woven perspective on art, being, humanity, and the world which insists upon the belief that nihilism is no way to live life.

“Today’s culture of high rationality has been dubbed postmodern, because we have deconstructed reason and language itself, finding that there are always multiple points of view
Jan 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Alex Grey, one the greatest living artists of our time, extols the virtues of art in this work that should be required reading for every Art History major and soul-searching Artist. Grey follows his journey of transformation from an angry alienated corporate artist into a conscious-raising visionary who believes strongly in the healing power of art. He also incorporates the work of other great artists in history. Great reminder on the role of art in society and easily applied to any discipline ( ...more
Abe Fabella
Feb 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An inspiring book for creative academics striving to shed conventional ways of thinking about art and returning to one's voice and authoritative power. The overarching thread for Mr. Grey is that one's power is linked to one's community and for a special few, linked to all of humanity. Although couched amidst catch-phrases of the current New Age/Conspiratorial movement (e.g. shamanism, chakras), the book can be read as a thorough exposition of an artist's spiritual trajectory. Recommended highly ...more
Jan 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book that I highly recommend for every artist. Alex Grey traces the evolution of human consciousness along side of the evolution of art. He gracefully asks and answers the question, "Why do we make art?"

I've read this book twice so far, in 2003 and 2006 and was delighted at the increased depth of understanding I experienced with just three years of personal growth since the first amazing read.
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
200 pages of pseudo-spiritual nonsense, two stars for a couple interesting quips about ego death. Obviously terribly full of himself and working hard to solidify his place in the art world, this seems to be written to fool seekers and the uninitiated. A talented artist working too hard to validate his perspective, better to let art speak for itself on an individual basis but I guess everyone has bills to pay.
Pablo María Fernández
One of the idols of my teen years, magician Jeff McBride, recommended this book like twenty years ago. At that moment I read a summary I found online and decided it wasn’t my cup of tea (I recognized myself more as a rational and scientific mind than a spiritual and religious being).

Now I gave it another try and found it somehow interesting. It is in the same line of “Be here now” from Ram Dass and other new age authors like Alan Watts (you will find LSD experiments, higher states of consciousn
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An inspiring book, after reading this book, all I wanted was to meditate and produce something for others. If you know Alex Grey's work, this book will help you understand the "why" and "how" behind everything he has done, and it's truly beautiful.
I personally disagree with the use of hallucinogens in pursuit for enlightenment and although Grey doesn't directly invite people to use the, he does make it sound like they're a must for a spiritual life, but leaving that aside it's truly an amazing
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Alex Grey’s TED Talk mirrors his first story in this book, which worried me that I wasn’t going to be engaged if this was the direction to be continued throughout. Luckily, that wasn’t the case at all!

This book flowed nicely and Grey is naturally an intellectual. On top of learning certain history, I was also able to stay fascinated.

Definitely recommended even for those that this may not target.
Nicholas Dewart
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Alex Grey mixes: One part memoir, one part art critique and one part art history in a glass of spirituality. He gives his honest assessment of how art and spirituality intersect having the effect of compelling the reader to consider the mission of his or her art. It was as truthful as it was inspiring to read.
Oct 28, 2019 rated it liked it
A lot of sections make sense and deserve being reread. Some bits honestly feel like I haven't burnt enough synapses on acid just yet for them to make sense to me. Overall - quite interesting and unexpected, but I had too many wtf-reactions for it to deserve a higher rating. Maybe the next time (I might have fewer synapses then!) ...more
Dec 10, 2017 rated it liked it
I found the most interesting the parts where he was talking about his own works and experiences but I got bored when he started to talk about chackras and which artist represents which chackra. Maybe little too much new ageish stuff mixed with art talk.
Connor Elliot
Mar 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Some interesting comparative religion type stuff going on. Really like Grey's ideas about spirituality. Would recommend for people interested in questions like "what is the point of art?". Also for people interested in more modern takes on religious ideas. Go look at his paintings! Pretty trippy. ...more
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic exploration of Art and Spirit, the connection between the two, and how to foster it. Brilliant and enlightening.
Apr 27, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just reread this one. A great book when I need some inspiration
Feb 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
Been reading this for many years and finally finished it (good books need to be read slowly)! I have integrated the artist prayer into my daily practise. The writing style is quite dense and academic so not the easiest read but a fascinating history of art as mysticism. A good one to have in your shelf! I also love the author's paintings so it was nice to have them included throughout the book. Would've liked to hear more about his own story in a more formal way without the seriousness! Perhaps ...more
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
A truly unique, in depth, heartening, inspiring and extremely informative text exploring the purpose of art. A great read for anyone interested in gaining perspective on the history and mission of art and the potential for it to serve the highest purpose of elevating humanity to harmonious coexistence with ourselves and our natural world.

Kaalomai is an artist, writer & art therapist and the owner & resident guide at JoyHouse8.

JoyHouse8 is a Retreat Center for Personal Growth & Transformation.
2007 wrote: A very talented man, Grey writes as well as he paints. After visiting his gallery in NYC this summer with Stacy, I became curious to know more about the artist. His immersion into art since his teens makes spiritual quest through art compelling and encompassing. From his first tendencies to shock the art world with sensationalist art in the 80's to his quest to show reverance to the energies and celestial beings that run through this world beneath our senses, his personal journey is ...more
Justin Heron
Apr 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
If you aren't familiar with world religion, mysticism, or perrenial theory then this might be a good introduction. Some of the lingo can take some getting used to, as most of the terms regarding spirituality aren't terms you hear every day. The book is also rich in art history, how to view art, and commentary on what art is today. With each read, you could find more and more material to expand upon and research yourself. If you read it with an open heart and an open mind, I find that it brings ...more
Feb 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, spirituality
5 stars despite the fact that he occasionally slips into new age jargon-y sentences that don't seem to break down into anything. But overall, he does a great job of identifying and elucidating the problems finding meaning in contemporary art, the need for artists to include the spiritual component in their work according to their experience, and ways of conceptualizing and acting on the integration of that impulse into one's creative work. Got this from the library, but I'm going to have to trac ...more
Jun 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Alex's Grey's Mission of Art could be a universal textbook. He examines what art is, where art comes from, and how art can/should be accomplished through a very wide lens. His scope of art is broad enough that it can be applicable to any artist, or even non-artist, as are his points of reference. Not only does Grey examine art technically, he provides a sincere emotional look at the universe and art's place within it. This is a piece is intellectual as well as beautiful. It is a necessary work o ...more
Apr 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy, art
Alex Grey is one of my favorite artists, and thinks deeply about art and its purpose. However, he's a mystic, and his arguments hurt my brain. So intelligent, yet so credulous. Even so, his conclusions mostly line up with my humanistic views.

The book is brimming with wonderful art and quotes. I found it inspirational even if I didn't get there through mysticism.
Apr 09, 2008 rated it it was ok
I get what he is saying, but really a bit too idealistic for me, it is easy for him to say artists are a vessel for the spiritual, but when most of his works are created after taking psychedelics, even thought I do believe they tap into another area of the mind, how do drugs equal spirituality?
Apr 23, 2010 marked it as to-read
I am about half way through this book, but my energies keep taking me elsewhere. I love how he combines art with the spiritual aspect of life. It really is a good book. I need to stop checking books out from the library so I can finish the books I have at home!
Sep 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Whether you are an artist or not, this book is full of delightful insight. Alex Grey writes with a beautiful perspective of an artist. His views on the world and the spiritual are amazing and inspiring.
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Speaking as a person who enjoys art very much and finds the concept of an authentic self fascinating, this is definitely the book for anyone searching to unlock what lurks behind their creative intentions. Mr. Grey says the most insightful things and is definitely one of my favorite artists.
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Alex Grey was born in Columbus, Ohio on November 29, 1953 (Sagittarius), the middle child of a gentle middle-class couple. His father was a graphic designer and encouraged his son’s drawing ability. Young Alex would collect insects and dead animals from the suburban neighborhood and bury them in the back yard. The themes of death and transcendence weave throughout his artworks, from the earliest d ...more

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“There is a need for individuals to find ways of transcending their limiting identities, of periodically committing egocide. The submission to God by following transformative spiritual practices can more safely engage the death-rebirth transcendence axis. Some cultures have elaborate and cathartic rites of passage for every stage of life. Our culture has not fostered safe death and rebirth rituals. So people create their own, consciously or unconsciously.” 3 likes
“Certainly a painting can be reductionistically described by its physical properties only: its shape, the paint, the design, and so forth. But every artwork that exists is both an individual thing, a whole unto itself, and simultaneously a part of the matrix of forces that brought it into being.” 2 likes
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