Jerry Saltz

Since the birth of the avant-garde in the mid-nineteenth century, art history has been considered mainly in formal ways: What led to what, who begat whom. That approach has a way of shutting out a basic idea—namely, the visionary, shamanic inexplicability of most of what we see. Johnson’s idea brings such an escape from reason back into the discussion, and could relegate some major art to the margins and move marginal (and questionable) things to the center. Keeping psychedelia in mind as you look at art stops it from being just a building block or part of a stylistic family; it allows recent work to regain some of the value that art has had over its 50,000-year history.

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