Alex Grey (born November 29, 1953) is best known for his paintings, which portray multiple dimensions of reality, interweaving biological anatomy with psychic and spiritual energies. Grey’s visual meditation on the nature of life and consciousness, the subject of his art, is contained in five books. His two monographs, Sacred Mirrors and Transfigurations, follow the history of Grey’s artistic life. The Mission of Art and Art Psalms reflect on art as a spiritual practice. The book, CoSM, co-authored with Allyson Grey, provides a guided tour of the New York City installation of the Sacred Mirrors collection. Grey’s world renowned career includes exhibitions and keynote addresses from Basel to Tokyo to Sao Paulo, and features on the Discovery Channel, the CBC, in Newsweek andTime magazines. Grey’s art has been used on albums for the multi-platinum bands Nirvana, Beastie Boys, Tool, and String Cheese Incident.
The themes of death and transcendence weave throughout his artworks, from the earliest drawings to later performances, paintings and sculpture. He went to the Columbus College of Art and Design for two years (1971-73), then dropped out and painted billboards in Ohio for a year (73-74). Grey then attended the Boston Museum School for one year to study with the conceptual artist, Jay Jaroslav.
At the Boston Museum School he met his wife, the artist, Allyson Rymland Grey. During this period he had a series of entheogenically induced mystical experiences which transformed his agnostic existentialism to a radical transcendentalism. The Grey couple would trip together on LSD. Alex then spent five years at Harvard Medical School working in the Anatomy department studying the body and preparing cadavers for dissection. He also worked at Harvard’s department of Mind/Body Medicine with Dr. Herbert Benson and Dr. Joan Borysenko conducting scientific experiments to investigate subtle healing energies. Alex’s anatomical training prepared him for painting the Sacred Mirrors (explained below) and for doing medical illustration.
Grey was an instructor in Artistic Anatomy and Figure Sculpture for ten years at New York University, and now teaches courses in Visionary Art with Allyson at The Open Center in New York City, Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York.
Grey’s most outstanding and widely appreciated works of transformative art were exhibited for five years in the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors (CoSM) in NewYork City. Grey’s unique series of 21 life-sized paintings, the Sacred Mirrors, take the viewer on a journey toward their own divine nature by examining, in detail, the body, mind, and spirit. The Sacred Mirrors present the physical and subtle anatomy of an individual in the context of cosmic, biological and technological evolution. Begun in 1979, the series took a period of ten years to complete. It was during this period that he developed his depictions of the human body that “x-ray” the multiple layers of reality, and reveal the interplay of anatomical and spiritual forces. After painting the Sacred Mirrors, he applied this multidimensional perspective to such archetypal human experiences as praying, meditation, dying, kissing, copulating, pregnancy, birth and nursing.
Grey is a member of the Integral Institute. He is also on the board of advisors for the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics, and is the Chair of Wisdom University’s Sacred Art Department. He and his wife Allyson Grey are the co-founders of the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, a non-profit institution supporting Visionary Culture in New York City.
In 2009 CoSM was temporarily closed and dismantled to be relocated to a new location outside of New York city.
The metal band Tool has featured Grey’s work as album art for their album Lateralus. He also executed the stage design for Tool for the associated tour that included massive reproductions of the album artwork as well as provide the artwork for the 2006 album 10,000 Days and the computer-generated graphics for the video of the single Vicarious. Tool also used a few paintings from Alex on their 2007 tour of Europe, Asia, and North America.
- 1990 – Sacred Mirrors: The Visionary Art of Alexander Grey (Alex Grey) (Inner Traditions – Bear & Company) ISBN 0892813148
- 2001 – Transfigurations (Alex Grey) (Inner Traditions – Bear & Company) ISBN 0892818514
- 2001 – The Mission of Art (Alex Grey) (Shambhala Publications Inc.) ISBN 157062545X
- 2008 – Art Psalms