Drip paintings and fractal analysis

Katherine Jones-Smith, Harsh Mathur, Lawrence Krauss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


It has been claimed that fractal analysis can be applied to unambiguously characterize works of art such as the drip paintings of Jackson Pollock. This academic issue has become of more general interest following the recent discovery of a cache of disputed Pollock paintings. We definitively demonstrate here, by analyzing paintings by Pollock and others, that fractal criteria provide no information about artistic authenticity. This work has led us to a result in fractal analysis of more general scientific significance: we show that the statistics of the "covering staircase" (closely related to the box-counting staircase) provide a way to characterize geometry and distinguish fractals from Euclidean objects. Finally we present a discussion of the composite of two fractals, a problem that was first investigated by Muzy. We show that the composite is not generally scale invariant and that it exhibits complex multifractal scaling in the small distance asymptotic limit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number046111
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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