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Robert Venosa
Photo by Helen Davis,
from Illuminatus, 1999
Erowid Character Vaults
Robert Venosa
Born in New York City, as a young man Robert Venosa was an art director for CBS/Columbia Records, and later ran a multimillion-dollar-a-year advertising agency. Following his first LSD trip in the mid-1960s, Venosa decided to become an artist, painting with oils. In 1970, he studied in New York for three months with the artist Mati Klarwein, and they collaborated on the album cover of Santana's Abraxas; Klarwein painted the cover art and Venosa designed the band's logo. Then in 1971, Venosa moved to Vienna to apprentice under another contemporary master, Ernst Fuchs. After a few months painting under Fuchs, his lack of funds forced a return to the United States, where he ended up living on houseboat in Sausalito, California; the British philosopher Alan Watts was his next-door-neighbor. In 1972 Venosa headed back to Europe, where he settled in Cadaqués, Spain, and met the great Surrealist, Salvador Dali. The encouragement Venosa received from Klarwein, Fuchs, and Dali inspired Venosa to champion the practice of direct study under an accomplished artist. This philosophy eventually led him to co-teach painting techniques to students from all over the world -- in tandem with his wife, German artist Martina Hoffmann.

Allying with the Fantastic Realists, Venosa's work showcases luminous three-dimensional surfaces that convey the appearance of chipped obsidian, melting stained glass, slick viscera, precious gems, and a bright internal spiritual light. Although influenced by Fuchs's style, Venosa's paintings strongly convey his own unique vision.

Venosa's interest in psychedelics led him to befriend the field's pioneers--Albert Hofmann, Timothy Leary, Terence McKenna, Sasha and Ann Shulgin--as well as numerous up-and-coming entheogen enthusiasts. For the final dozen years of his life, he and Martina often lectured at psychedelic gatherings, where a new generation of artists could appreciate the direct transmission of their ideas and techniques. After an eight-year battle with cancer, Venosa passed away on August 8, 2011 at the age of 75.

"It's a struggle out there. But you just have to take the world by the horns...and go for it. That's what I did. That's how it worked."
-- Robert Venosa at The Omega Institute, 2006
Author of Books
  • Illuminatus (1999/2006)
  • Noospheres (1991)
  • Manas Manna (1978)
  • Author of (Articles)
  • "A Double Dose of Genius", MAPS Bulletin 16(3):30-32 (Winter 2006-2007)
  • Interviews
  • Reality Sandwich Interview by Michael Robinson (Jan 2010)
  • Videos
  • Push Studio Opening for the Interdimensional Art Movement Unified Show, Reality Check Studio (2009)
  • In Conversation with Peter Gric (2008)
  • In Conversation with filmaker Jan Kounen (2008)
  • "Sketching the Fantastic" [with Martina Hoffmann], The Boom Festival (2008)
  • "Guided Meditation" [with Martina Hoffmann], The Boom Festival (2008)
  • "Inspire" [with Martina Hoffmann], The Omega Institute (2006)
  • "The Artist's Leap of Faith" [with Martina Hoffmann], The Omega Institute (2006)
  • "The Artist & The Shaman" [with Martina Hoffmann], The Omega Institute (2006)
  • Audio
  • "The Future of Visionary Art, Parts 1 & 2", Psychedelic Salon (2006)
  • "Visionary Artists Podcast #23",
  • Remembrances
  • Remembering The Fantastic: Robert Venosa (, Aug 2011)
  • Well-known Boulder artist Robert Venosa dies at 75 (Colorado Daily, Aug 2011)
  • Robert Venosa, Visionary Artist, Dead At 75 (Above Top Secret, Aug 2011)
  • Visionary Painter Robert Venosa Dies (The, Aug 2011)
  • In honour of Robert Venosa (, Aug 2011)