It turns out that Pollock didn’t actually drip his paint. Sometimes he poured straight from the can. He also used brushes, sticks and syringes to layer paint on a canvas beneath him. Instead of creating individual droplets, he manipulated paint so that it fell toward the canvas in long, unbroken filaments.

That technique allowed Pollock to avoid coiling instability, in which a viscous liquid like paint curls up and coils like a rope when it falls on a surface. (Think of how honey becomes ropelike when you pour it on toast, piling up in a coil before settling into a liquid that spreads across the bread.)

It’s not the first time physicists have tackled Pollock, and it probably won’t be the last. So why bother? It’s not just fun and games, the researchers imply – a better understanding of Pollock’s painting physics could help authenticate paintings in the future.

The Washington Post

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