Scientists Find Physics in Jackson Pollock's Art

He had an intuitive grasp of fluid dynamics: study
By Sarah Whitmire,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2011 2:42 PM CDT
This image provided by Sotheby's New York shows Jackson Pollock's "Number 16."   (AP Photo/Sotheby's New York)

(Newser) – The work of Jackson Pollock has been, and will continue to be, a divisive style of abstract painting inspiring to some and endlessly confusing to others. This might not help the latter camp: A physicist, a mathematician, and an art historian teamed up to analyze Pollack's trademark drips and splatters and found that he was taking advantage of principles of fluid dynamics years before physicists themselves were studying the field, reports Wired. Pollock, for example, experimented with coiling, the way fluids fold into themselves, and purposely sought unique types of paints and mixtures to get the look he wanted.

“I think if you told Pollock, ‘You’re exploring physics,’ he would think you were crazy,” says a co-author of the study in Physics Today. “He did it intuitively. His interest was not so much the physics of the process, it was to achieve a certain aesthetic effect. But the two are bound together. You can’t separate them. You’re inviting physics to be a part of it.”

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