Want to See What Jackson Pollock Looked Like in Slo-Mo?

by Kyle Chayka on January 12, 2011

To all those haters who claim they just don’t get Jackson Pollock, or that the painter’s Abstract Expressionist canvases have started to look stale: here’s something to get your attention. A slow-motion video of flung paint shows the real drama behind Pollock’s paintings.

Johann Cohrs and Siggi Kuckstien’s “Floating” is an opera of free-floating color. Viscous strands of paint (acrylic, I can only guess) stretch and split across the screen, breaking into tiny spheres flying off-screen. When two colors of paint clash from opposite sides, tiny variations of mixed hues are visible under the eye of the camera. It’s all pretty magnificent.

Which brings us back to Jackson Pollock. We have contemporary videos of the artist painting, stretched over his floor-bound canvases, throwing colors this way and that, but we certainly don’t have any like this. What we see here is the real action of the paint itself, movement that Pollock had to control with a flick of his wrist. Think there’s no skill behind the drip paintings? Think again: they’re controlled chaos.

Somehow, I don’t think Pollock listened to the same ambient movie-soundtrack tunes while he was painting, though.

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  • Rob Myers

    They are haters.


  • Dave O.

    Re: ‘controlled chaos’
    In the words of Pollock himself: “No Chaos, Damn It”.

    This was his one line response via telegram to a 1950 Time magazine critic who wrote: ““It is easy to detect the following things in all of his paintings: Chaos. Absolute lack of harmony. Complete lack of structural organization. Total absence of technique, however rudimentary. Once again, chaos.” Pollock asserted that he maintained total control.

    • Good point. I think it’s more about chance than chaos. Other artists of his generation, like John Cage and Merge Cunningham, were also intrigued by chance. Chaos is what others who were not looking hard enough saw.

    • I mean to structure it more that this video represents totally chaotic views of paint: it’s just splashing around, with no end goal. On the other side, Pollock has controlled the ultimate destination of his paint, as I guess any painter does.

      • Wat Tyler

        I read a scientific book once which was saying that chaos theory is basically what underpins fluid dynamics. Not sure how relevant that is here, but the whole thing about where predictability ends and randomness begins is an interesting subject.

  • I’m just loving the movement of the colour and the paint….it’s a visual of how I feel when I’m painting in the zone.

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