Posts Tagged ‘fractal pattern’

No.5, 1948 – Jackson Pollock – world’s most expensive painting

July 19, 2010

No.5, 1948, painted by Jackson Pollock, is currently the world’s most expensive painting ever sold. It was priced at $140 million in 2006, when it changed hands from one collector to another. Here’s my attempt at explaining what the buyer could have seen in Jackson Pollock’s painting that could justify the price tag.

Art Collectors and investors are always on the look out for gaining exclusive collector’s items, which could increase their prestige and also serve as an excellent investment medium. In the art field that means, an artwork that has made a significant impact on the history of art or an artwork created by a very influential artist. It is even better if the artist brought about a paradigm shift that changed the conventions of the time. Eg: da Vinci with Mona Lisa, Picasso with Cubism, Lichtenstein with Pop-Art.

Such works automatically assume an august stature which attracts art collectors and investors. There is also the economics of art that plays a role, the rarer the painting the better the investment. No.5, 1948 has all this going for it.

Pollock’s radical techniques and methods made sure that his drip series were (still is) talk of the art community nationally and internationally, with several show conducted in leading the US and Europe. The drip series established Pollock as a leading figure of new American painting. Pollock was an iconoclast and a rebel, which got him a reputation that made him infamous. This in turn was great publicity for his drip series. Pollock with his unconventional methods influenced many artists to abandon conventions of fine art and encourages more creativity and boundary-less expression. Pollock created art history with his new kind of paintings.

There’s also a mathematical theory that explains the popularity of  Pollock’s drip series. Mathematicians and Scientists believe that Pollok’s drip series contains a mathematical, yet natural, concept called a fractal. It is a rough, geometric object that can be subdivided into parts, each of which looks like a reduced-size copy of the whole. In a fractal pattern, each smaller configuration is a miniature, though not necessarily identical, version of the larger pattern. Mathematicians believe this phenomenon is what attracts people to Pollock’s drip series. The fractal pattern they claim is subconsciously pleasing to the eyes.

Now here is my speculation, in addition to the above qualities, the painting was also supported by economics. All of Pollock’s paintings in the drip series (this is Pollock’s trademark) are safeguarded in museums except the No.5, 1948. The paintings hanging in museums rarely get sold which in turn creates a lack of supply in the market that the only one that can be a potential asset is priced exorbitantly. Pieces like this will not only be a good investment but also a status symbol worth exhibiting.

Sources:

http://www.learn.columbia.edu/pollock/html/preface.html

http://www.jackson-pollock.com/jackson-pollock-drip.html (about Fractals)

List of the World’s most expensive paintings

Triva - world's most expensive paintings
3 paintings are works of Picasso  
2 paintings have the same model - painted by Klimt    
1 painting has a double of it, differentiated mainly by the colour, painted by van Gogh    
the latest of the lot was sold this year in May 2010, for $106.5 million     
1 painting is actually not a painting at all - its screen printing by Warhol     
3 paintings have the artists' mistress as models     
50% of the top 10 paintings were sold in 2006     
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