Siqueiros and Pollock: Using Hydrodynamic Instabilities to Paint
The art of David A. Siqueiros and Jackson Pollock could not be more different. However, the paths of these two artists crossed early in their careers. In 1936 Siqueiros organized an experimental painting workshop in New York; Pollock was among the attendees. In this event, the painters essentially played around with paints, techniques and materials to produce new ways to produce textures and patterns of aesthetic value. During this particular workshop, Pollock started experimenting with his famous dripping technique and Siqueiros invented his ‘accidental painting’ technique. Curiously, from the physical point of view, both techniques rely on the same principle: hydrodynamic instability. The case of Siqueiros’ accidental painting technique, the spotted patterns result from the Rayleigh-Taylor instability, which is the result of superposing fluid layers of different colors and densities on top of each other. Pollock’s dripping technique uses curling and beading instabilities to produce curly lines and spots in his abstract expressionist art. In this talk I will show the results of our experimental investigation to replicate the techniques. The overall objective of our investigations is to gain fundamental understanding of the mechanics of the painting.