Monday, February 11, 2008


I am most aware of Susan Sontag as a result of being a fan of the work of Annie Leibowitz. I’ve never read any of Susan Sontag’s writing, but I came across this quote the other day, “Interpretation is the revenge of intellect upon art”. I think I need to read some of Ms. Sontag’s work.

Anyway, a sculptor I met last year referred me to an article on fractals and the analysis of Jackson Pollocks drip paintings. Pollock, another one I should have appreciated way sooner.

Richard Taylor, a physicist at the University of Oregon in Eugene - not far from my birthplace of Hillsboro (synchronicity?)- recognized and analyzed the fractals seen in the work of Mr. Pollock. After biology, physics was the only science that ever made much sense to me, but the whole fractal thing reminds me of Ms. Sontag’s quote. It, like all analysis and criticism, is after the fact. The act of concepting and creating is where the art lies. Beyond that there is a level of craft. One informs the other, but I can’t believe Mr. Pollock read a treatise on physics and thought, Hey, I can make those fractal things by dripping paint. I think he conceived of a different way of representing three dimensional space in two dimensions, utilizing his familiarity with media and its application,bravado, chaos, and maybe some bourbon. I wish I had been ready to appreciate his work sooner. I appreciated bourbon pretty early. Still do.

But some of the fractal observations are interesting. It turns out the relationship between fractals seen in nature, and what I am hoping/trying to put down in paint, may be something similar to what is seen in Pollock’s paintings, and in the work of any number of other painters. I’ll see if I can rustle up some of my own fractals later this week.

The images of Pollocks work were taken from the pdf Fractal Expressionism by Richard Taylor.

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