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:
- “Fractal Expressionism: the Art and Science Behind Jackson Pollock’s Paintings” book to be published in 2021 (not available for download)
- “The Abstract Expressionists and Les Automatistes: A Shared Multi-fractal Depth” Signal Processing, 573-878, 93, 2013
- “Francis O’Connor discusses Pollock’s Fractal Patterns”
- “Chaos, Fractals, Nature: A New Look at Jackson Pollock”, book published by Fractals Research ISBN: 0-9791874-1-9 (2010)
- “Perceptual and Physiological Responses to Jackson Pollock’s Fractals” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 5 1 (2011)
- “Multifractal and Statistical Comparison of Painting Techniques of Adults and Children” SPIE Proceedings of Electronic Imaging, special edition on Computer Vision and Image Analysis of Art 75317531001-6(2010)
- “Dimensional Interplay Analysis of ‘Poured’ Paintings” Fractals Research ISBN: 0-9791874-4-3 (2008)
- “Authenticating Pollock Paintings with Fractal Geometry” Pattern Recognition Letters 28 695 (2007)
- “Revisiting Pollock’s Poured Paintings” Nature Communications Arising 44 doi:10:1038/nature05399 (2006)
- “In the Hands of the Master” by Alison Abbott Nature 439 648 (2006)
- “Personal Reflections on Pollock’s Fractal Paintings” Invited essay, special edition of the JournalHistory, Science and Health 13 108-23 (2006)
- “Fractal Expressionism – Where Art Meets Science” Invited Chapter to the book Art and ComplexityElsevier Science Amsterdam (2003)
- “Order in Pollock’s Chaos” Scientific American 287 116 (2002)
- “The Construction of Pollock’s Fractal Drip Paintings” Leonardo 35 203-7 (2002)
- Fractal analysis of Pollock’s drip paintings, Nature, 422, 399 (1999)
**Answer key (starting top left and going clockwise): a bush, vegetation, seaweed, trees, spiders web, Pollock!