Fractal Analysis of Jackson Pollock’s Poured Paintings

Spot the Pollock (answer below)*


After fifty years of debate, the answer to Modern Art’s greatest puzzle was delivered from an unexpected source – science.

In 1999, Richard Taylor and his research team published the results of their scientific analysis showing Pollock’s poured patterns to be fractal. Consisting of patterns that recur at increasingly fine magnifications, fractals are the basic building blocks of nature’s scenery. Labelled as “Fractal Expressionism,” Pollock distilled the essence of natural scenery and expressed it on his canvases with an unmatched directness. By adopting nature’s pattern generation processes, the resulting paintings didn’t mimic nature but instead stood as examples of nature. The above images compare Pollock’s fractals to those found in nature. Remarkably, the analysis revealed a highly systematic fractal painting process perfected by Pollock over a decade.

Since this discovery, the continuing research on Pollock’s fractals by Taylor’s group and others has been greeted with considerable enthusiasm from the press, the public, and the scientific and artistic communities. Inevitably, there’s also a lot of misinformation about Pollock’s fractals on the Internet. Click here for the facts.

Click here to read a popular book chapter by science writer Arthur Miller: “How Fractals, Science and Technology Helped Resolve the World’s Greatest Art Scandal”

Selected Publications and Media:

**Answer key (starting top left and going clockwise): a bush, vegetation, seaweed, trees, spiders web, Pollock!