Purple Haze: Art and Drugs Across the Americas

Curated by Estrellita B. Brodsky with Raúl Martínez

September 9 to December 10, 2023
Morgan Anderson Gallery

Antonio Caro, Colombia, 1977, screen print on canvas, courtesy the Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York

Read the press release

Purple Haze: Art and Drugs Across the Americas explores the representation of drugs in the media and public imagination. Organized by guest curator and scholar Estrellita B. Brodsky, the exhibition brings together works by more than 20 international artists from the 1960s to the present, as well a selection of pre-Hispanic objects associated with the use of drugs. Borrowing its title from Jimi Hendrix’s iconic song and the legendary strain of marijuana, Purple Haze examines the Americas’ conflicted relationship with drugs as well as their impact on social, political, and economic relations throughout the two continents.


Larry Clark, Untitled, 1963, Ⓒ Larry Clark; Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York


Dash Snow, Untitled (Poodle), 2008, Courtesy of the Dash Snow Archive, NYC and Morán Morán

From the Olmec’s use of bufo toad secretions to the chewing of coca leaves by numerous communities in the Andes, there is ample documentation of the use of psychotropic substances by multiple societies across the Americas. Pre-Hispanic objects included in the exhibition demonstrate how drugs were used as a means of communicating with deities, dead ancestors and spirits. As Western societies explore and embrace the curative potential of anesthetics and psychedelics, it is important to look beyond our borders and their ambiguous histories. This exhibition offers a more nuanced view focusing on the knowledge and practices of Latin American communities while also shedding light on the violence and destruction caused by Americas’ War on Drugs and foreign policies. Purple Haze will present works that are poignant reminders of the complex ways in which cultures and artists across the continents have addressed this topic.


Jac Leirner, Skin (Rizia Liquorice), 2013, courtesy of the artist and Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel, São Paulo/Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Ben Westoby