centerlogobigAAD logo


Famed abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock notoriously relied on non-traditional painting techniques to create his masterpieces. Physicists have pondered the presence of curls and coils in his work, and whether the artist deliberately exploited a well-known fluid dynamics effect to achieve them. Now a recent paper in PLOS One is claiming the opposite: Pollock deliberately avoided so-called "coiling instabilities" as he worked.

For the last few years, Roberto Zenit, a physicist with the National Autonomous University of Mexico and Brown University, has been studying the physics of fluids at work in novel painting techniques like those used by Pollock and Mexican muralist David A. Siqueiros. Pollock, for instance, early on employed a "flying filament" or "flying catenary" technique before he perfected his dripping methods. The paint forms various viscous filaments, which are thrown against a vertical canvas. Zenit and several colleagues were able to recreate the fluid action by mounting a paint-filled brush on a rapidly rotating mechanical arm.

One error to note was that Pollock painted on canvases or wallpaper laid flat on the ground, so the gravity dribble effect should not be a concern

 The artist also used spirits of turpentine to thin put the mixture enough to where the pigments might dance to his rhythm 

Read more on Arstechnica:

FF5F6181 48F4 4CC2 A537 E8A0DBA44B0B

You may also like to read:

Pollock-Krasner House, Easthampton

Why is a Jackson Pollock painting, and its sale at an auction, so significant?

Right vs Wrong in illustration

About the Author



AAD REPORTS   Reports, news and opinion from