Science & Art: Jackson Pollock’s Drip Painting Style (And Genius) Avoided “Coiling Instability”

From PLOS One Journal online release:

Jackson Pollock Full Fathom Five 1947We conclude that Pollock avoided the appearance of the hydrodynamic instabilities, contrary to what was argued by previous studies. Pollock selected the physical properties of the paint to prevent filament fragmentation before deposition, and applied it while moving his hand sufficiently fast and at certain heights to avoid fluid filaments from coiling into themselves. An understanding of the physical conditions at which these patterns were created is important to further art research and it can be used as a tool in the authentication of paintings.

Jackson Pollock Painting TechniqueConsidered one of the most prominent American painters of the 20th century, the life and work of Jackson Pollock have been the subject of books, movies, and documentaries [13]. His paintings can be broadly categorized as being abstract-expressionist. Although his painting style evolved during his sometimes tormented life, the so-called ‘dripping’ technique is certainly the most widely recognized both by experts and the general public.

Jackson Pollock described the technique himself [4]. In summary, Pollock would lay a canvas horizontally and pour paint on top of it, in a controlled manner. To regulate the flow of paint, he either used an instrument (a stick, knife or a brush), poured it directly from a can and in some instances he also used a syringe. Viscous fluid filaments were produced and laid over the canvas while ‘rhythmically moving’ around it. It is believed that Pollock developed this technique strongly influenced by an experimental painting workshop, organized in New York by Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros in 1936 [5]. Interestingly, Siqueiros himself also developed the ‘accidental painting’ technique during this workshop, which was recently analyzed by Zetina et al. [6].

To read more: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0223706

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