Jackson Pollock, famed for his ‘poured’ paintings, was defiant in facing down the cynics who viewed them as random splatterings. “I can control the flow of paint; there is no accident.” And several decades after the abstract expressionist’s death, science proved him right. In the late 1990s, physicist Richard Taylor analysed a selection of Pollock’s poured paintings and found they were composed of distinct fractal patterns — made by dripping or pouring paint straight on to a canvas. Indeed, it seems that ‘Jack the Dripper’ was refining the fractal characteristics of his paintings long before the mathematics to analyse them was invented.
Now, Taylor’s evidence may prove critical in determining the authenticity of a group of recently discovered paintings that could be Pollocks. “A Pollock poured painting can be sold for millions of dollars.” In 1998, for instance, Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952 was valued at US$40 million.