All that glitters plus Jack the Dripper (Dec. 7)

December 5, 2008

One of the most interesting articles about art that I ever read appeared in a science magazine:  Discover’s November 2001 issue, to be exact.  “Pollock’s Fractals” talked about the mathematics behind Jackson Pollock’s famous drip paintings, created between 1943 and 1952.  You can read the article itself here (I love the Internet!!), but to sum up quickly, the complexity of the patterns in Pollock’s paintings appeals to our brains the same way that natural landscapes like a forest do. Those splatters aren’t just random and chaotic; over the years, Pollock mastered the ability to test the limits of what we find aesthetically pleasing.  For some of us, granted, that pleasure happens at a deeply subconscious level!

The Saint Louis Art Museum’s exhibit “Action/Abstracton: Pollock, de Kooning, and American Art, 1940-1976” is a great place to see what you think of Pollock’s work.  Among other pieces, it features “Number 3, 1950,” which would rate in the middle of mathematicians’ fractal scale; Mark Rothko’s “Red, Orange, Orange on Red” is a serious of essentially straight lines that, like a calm beach view, would rate low on the scale.   See which landscape you prefer!

The exhibit runs until Jan. 11, and as always with the museum’s special exhibits, admission is free on Fridays.  But it’s worth paying for if you happen to go on another day of the week … say this Sunday (Dec. 7), when the new theme for the month’s free family activity is introduced.  “All that Glitters and Glows” is a perfect theme for December, and the take-home projects will literally dazzle.  This week’s is particularly special, as Chef Natalia Penchaszadeh will be on hand from 1 to 4 p.m. to create edible treats with your kids. The background atmosphere will be festive too, with cocoa and music.

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