Tag Archives: mathematics

Jackson Pollock Demonstrates Physics in his Strokes

Jackson Pollock, the man who brought American art to the forefront of the field and one of the father’s of the abstract expressionist movement, was not applying slap-dash, free-flung practices in his famous ‘splatter paintings.’

A group of physicists and mathematicians have released a carefully analyzed study of his work and have concluded that:

They found that Pollock’s drizzles, drips and splashes could be explained by physical phenomena known as jets, drops and sheets. Each is governed by the laws of fluid dynamics, which Pollock exploited using careful technique and manipulating the thickness of his pigments and paints with water and solvents, according to the researchers.

Their findings were published in a recent edition of Physics Today. While many people examine Pollock’s splatter paintings and think “My six year old could do that!” Science would seem to disagree!

“By pouring paint in this continuous jet fashion or by dripping it, he incorporated physics into the process of painting itself,” study researcher Andrzej Herczynski, a physicist at Boston College, said in a statement. “To the degree that he did and to the degree he varied his materials — by density or viscosity — he was experimenting in fluid dynamics, although his aim was not to describe the physics, but to produce a certain aesthetic effect.”

Read more about the article here at MSNBC or in Physics Today (with a paid subscription or single buy for the article).

NPR – Teacher’s Voices

My friend and Colleague Daniel Schneider added his voice to an NPR podcast on public teaching in Arizona. Dan and I have worked together at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth program. Check out the podcast interview here.