Search the whole artnet database
Subscribe to our RSS feed:

RSS Feed Button

Jackson Pollock, Untitled 1948-49
Jackson Pollock, Untitled 1948-49


July 8, 2011

Share |

Jackson Pollock’s works are universally defined by their rapid streaks of color and effortless drips of paint. But in a new study in the journal Physics Today on the mechanics of Pollock’s painting, Boston College and Harvard professors Andrzej Herczynski, Claude Cernuschi and L. Mahadevan argue that the artist employed a slow, methodical technique of “fluid dynamics.” The process is “particularly intriguing to physicists” because Pollock “ceded some of the responsibility for the appearance of his work to natural phenomena.” As a result, the authors believe Pollock’s work is open to mathematical analysis, and they’ve even devised a formula to replicate Pollock’s painting style.

In contrast to artists who simply splatter paint onto the canvas, Pollock dipped a stick or trowel into the paint and let it drip slowly from above, allowing it to form coils, like honey. According to the Physics Today trio, he was practicing a form of physics that wasn’t written about until the late 1950s. Studying the red and black lines in his Untitled 1948-49, the authors argue that perhaps Pollock intuitively led the eye to follow a stream of lines rather than dart around between discrete dots and dashes. The Pollock esthetic, say the physicists, is appealing because of its quantifiable scientific underpinnings.

contact Send Email


artnet—The Art World Online. ©2014 Artnet Worldwide Corporation. All rights reserved. artnet® is a registered trademark of Artnet Worldwide Corporation, New York, NY, USA.