How Alex Grey’s visionary art is evolving the cultural body through icons of interconnectedness
• Includes over 200 reproductions of Grey’s artwork
• Contains spectacular photos of Grey’s collaboration with the cult band TOOL plus his worldwide live-painting performances
• Offers Grey’s reflections on how art evolves consciousness with a new symbology of the Networked Self
• Winner of the 2013 Nautilus Silver Book Award in Photography and Art
Revealing the interwoven energies of body and soul, love and spirit that illuminate the core of each being, Alex Grey’s mystic paintings articulate the realms of consciousness encountered during visits to entheogenic heaven worlds. His painting Net of Being--inspired by a blazing vision of an infinite grid of Godheads during an ayahuasca journey--has reached millions as the cover and interior of the band TOOL’s Grammy award–winning triple-platinum album, 10,000 Days. Net of Being is one of many images Grey has created that have resulted in a chain reaction of uses--from apparel and jewelry to tattoos and music videos--embedding these iconic works into our culture’s living Net of Being.
The book explores how the mystical experience expressed in Alex Grey’s work opens a new understanding of our shared consciousness and unveils the deep influence art can have on cultural evolution. The narrative progresses through a successive expansion of identity--from the self, to self and beloved, to self and community, world spirit, and cosmic consciousness, where bodies are transparent to galactic energies. Presenting over 200 images, including many never-before-reproduced paintings as well as masterworks such as St. Albert and the LSD Revelation Revolution and Godself, the book also documents performance art, live-painting on stage throughout the world, and the “social sculpture” called CoSM, Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, that Grey cofounded with his wife and creative collaborator, artist Allyson Grey.
The evidence that all beings are connected is revealed before us every day. On Earth, nearly four billion years ago the only life was blue-green algae; now our human consciousness contemplates that fact and marvels at the miraculously diverse biological bloom of creation we share with all beings. There is continuity between individual existence, the environment, and the entire universe. It took a cosmos to birth an Earth and an Earth to birth a life web and a life web to evolve into a human being. Yes, we need our lungs to breathe, but we need air, and to have air we need trees, part of our extended terrestrial body. The lung would not exist without the tree.
A meme is a parcel of cultural meaning, a shared value, a trojan horse for a worldview. Transmission of a meme often occurs through iconography. The journey of a visual meme through the cultural body presents an icon vector, the wake of an image through time and the collective mind. Art is a consciousness evolutionary tool because of its ability to transmit memes.
A community is a net of beings, a web of relationships, selves united through a shared vision and language, a shared set of meanings. Over the past decade, as Allyson and I have traveled the planet, we see how my paintings have been integrated by various subcultures, from spiritual seekers and healers, tattooists, and rockers, to psychonauts and other visionary artists. The Net of Being icon was catapulted into the mindstream of millions of people in 2006, when the band Tool used this artwork on their Grammy Award-winning album cover, 10,000 Days, followed by the 3-D fly-through space in the video “Vicarious” as the backdrop for multiple tours, and on t-shirts and other merchandise.
The painting Net of Being proposes an archetypal symbol for the networked Self, an infinitely interconnected transcendental node seeing in every direction, part of a vast continuum of Godselves. The value of the image is in its symbolic transmission of sacred interconnectedness. Wearing a Net of Being symbol on one’s body as clothing or a tattoo acknowledges our part in a vastness greater than ourselves.
This book is dedicated to the worldwide love tribe, people who have seen beyond the boundaries of skin, tradition, and nation to find a cosmic spirit of love, creating the world and its Net of Being.
Net of Being Installation view, OCC Frank M. Doyle Art Pavilion, California 2009
Under our eyes in our lifetime we are seeing an old world dissolving and a new world coming into existence. . . . Between the death of one civilization and the rise of a new one are creative minorities who, with deep spiritual motivation, begin to birth a new civilization from the ashes of the old. --Arnold Toynbee
In his influential twelve-volume A Study of History, Arnold Toynbee presents a comparative analysis of 26 civilizations. After of a life spent studying the rise and fall of complex societies, he posited that civilizations exist to give birth to better religions. Cultures fall as they become distant from their spiritual core and rise as new, more effective ways of uniting with the divine are disclosed. We are currently undergoing the birth pangs of a planetary civilization. What is the path and what are the icons that will reinforce the emergence of WorldSpirit?
The Dalai Lama tells us that kindness is the universal religion and that a genuine smile the result of a heart of compassion. Compassion comes from recognizing the fragility and vulnerability of our brothers and sisters and all creatures great and small in the dance of impermanence that is our brief span of life. We are part of a planetary consciousness, an interconnectedness of all beings, both material and spiritual in a hierarchy both natural and supernatural. Beyond gender, race, nation, and creed, WorldSpirit honors the Earth we share, acknowledging our common embeddedness in the environment.
Around 3.7 billion years ago, an unbelievable miracle took place on Earth: the first life began to appear. Proliferating for 2 billion years and transforming the planet’s atmosphere to support life, blue-green algae were the primordial parent cells for all plants and creatures. The self-portrait drawing, Staring Down the Great Chain of Being, faces the tree of life and cosmogenesis as foundations of our personal and collective existence. When WorldSpirit awakens within us, we align our soul with the sacred beauty of nature.
At this critical time, we are called into action to preserve our environment after modern industry’s catastrophic impact. Habitat collapse and extinction caused by our willful, greedy consumptive species is out of control and on a suicidal course. The human unconscious shares tremendous grief and guilt over this destruction, leading to an epidemic of depression medicated with legal and illegal drugs. Humankind must acknowledge its errors, actively grieve and beg forgiveness from Mother Earth. Loving our planet, we realize the miracle of the interdependent Net of Beings, from the tiniest microorganisms to giant whales singing in the deep. Conscious of WorldSpirit, we hear the cry of nature and compassionately, wisely, and creatively act to awaken one another to heal what remains of God’s gift to us.
Alex Grey is the author of Sacred Mirrors and The Mission of Art. His work has graced the album covers of Nirvana and the Beastie Boys, has appeared in Newsweek, and has been exhibited around the world, including the New Museum and Stux Gallery in New York City, the Grand Palais in Paris, and the ARK exhibition space in Tokyo. In 1999 the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego honored Grey with a mid-career retrospective. He lives in New York with his wife, artist Allyson Grey, and their daughter, actress Zena Grey. In 2019, Alex Grey was cited as one of the "100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People in the World" according to Watkins Mind Body Spirit magazine.
“...possibly the most significant artist alive. Alex’s work, like all great transcendental art, is not merely symbolic or imaginary: it is a direct invitation to recognize and realize a deeper dimension of our very own being.”
– Ken Wilber, author of Integral Life Practice and Sex, Ecology, Spirituality and A Brief History of E
“Inspired by Allyson Grey, every single image that flows into vivid being from Alex’s magical hand awakens, energizes, enlightens, and overjoys! The Net of Being is an ageless, yet now, glimpse of the ‘Jewel Net of Indra,’ the divine Buddhist image for the mutual interpenetration of all beings and things, from the subatomic to the trans-galactic. It takes your breath away, in the best way possible!”
– Robert Thurman, Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies, Columbia University, Co-
“Alex Grey’s artworks bring together the tangible outer worlds investigated by scientists—full of molecules, bodies and stars–and the intangible visionary inner worlds—full of light, shadow and spiritual beings—known mainly to mystics.”
– Albert Hofmann, inventor of LSD and author of LSD: My Problem Child
“Alex Grey is America’s foremost psychedelic artist.”
– High Times Magazine
“After we’re all gone and in 300 years or 500 years, Alex will be a master. He, right now, is a modern master to me.”
– Adam Jones, lead guitar, TOOL
“Through his art, writings, and activism, Alex Grey shares his many insights into the nature of being and the universe at large. At the same time, he makes a compelling case for supporting and nurturing all forms of creative practice.”
– David S. Rubin, The Brown Foundation Curator of Contemporary Art at the San Antonio Museum of Art
“Alex Grey’s ability to portray the normally hidden mystical dimensions of the human body and the cosmos are extraordinary and unique. His amazing visionary art is in a category of its own!”
– Stanislov Grof, M.D., author of The Cosmic Game and Psychology of the Future and When the Impossible
“Alex Grey’s images connect with people effortlessly, on a deep intuitive level, and empower them to imagine a deeper and more meaningful world beneath the veneer of mundane everyday reality. He touches on themes that are so universal, so instantly recognizable, that upon seeing his art for the first time, it may already feel familiar…It seems that part of the reason people react so strongly to Alex’s work is because it touches them in a way that feels right, that nurtures and heals and perhaps fills some kind of void in their view of the world. This is perhaps one of the highest purposes that art can serve.”
– Guy Aitchison, author of Reinventing the Tattoo, and Organica
“A dazzling visual epic into mystical realms of consciousness, Net of Being is a gorgeously kaleidoscopic book tracking the psychedelic, Gaian, and galactic rise of a new planetary culture. Not just a work of writing and art, it’s an interdimensional chrysalis for the awakening of humanity.”
– Jonathan Talat Phillips, author of The Electric Jesus: The Healing Journey of a Contemporary Gnostic
“Net of Being is Alex Grey’s memoir in images and words: a report on an astonishing life, a fearless communication of a world–view, and a love letter to the planet. His formidable skill and imagination as an artist and unshakeable good will have allowed him to explore past any reasonable boundary and bring back visions that are part of the permanent iconography of our time.”
– Roger Lipsey, author of The Spiritual in Twentieth–Century Art
“There was a time when expeditions into the unknown were always accompanied by an artist to depict the newly discovered landscapes. Alex Grey is one of those kinds of artist, but in his case he explores our parallel realities and brings them back alive. He is the Albert Bierstadt of inner space.”
– Fred Tomaselli, artist
“Through his art and writings, Grey shares his many insights into the interconnected nature of life, spirit, and the universe as a whole and his artistic plans for the future. A stunning hardcover art book for Alex Grey fans, visionary art lovers, and explorers of interdimensional spirituality.”
– Merikah Robertson, Common Ground, November 2012
“From Private Sanctuaries to the covers of Grammy-award winning albums, Alex Grey’s art has become embedded in our modern, global culture, making him the mystical artist for this new millennium.”
– Anna Jedrziewski, Retailing Insight, December 2012
“At times mystical, erotic or anatomically correct, and always brilliantly colorful, Grey’s psychedelic art is not to be missed. In fact, some take it with them everywhere…in the form of body tattoos, photos of which are included.”
– Whole Life Times, December 2012
“An impressive, coffee table tome that blends metaphysical themes with uniquely original images and informative commentary, Net of Being is highly recommended to the legions of Alex Grey fans, to students of metaphysical imagery, and to both community and academic library Metaphysical Studies and Art History reference collections.”
– Wisconsin Book Watch, January 2013
“Net of Being by Alex Grey belongs in both the arts and spirituality sections of any library, and will appeal across the board into new age and music audiences...A ‘must’ for any alternative and new age arts holding!”
– Midwest Book Review, February 2013
“One can’t help but be impressed with Alex Grey’s voluminous output over the course of his career-to-date as chronicled within Net of Being. Not only does the book introduce many paintings completed during the eleven years since Alex’s last large-format art book was published, but it also contains numerous older pieces that weren’t featured in his earlier books. ”
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