Splatter painting belongs to abstract expressionism and was founded by the famous artist Jackson Pollock, who was called by the Time magazine ‘Jack the Dripper’. A distinguishing feature of abstract art is that it totally ignores the appearance of a material object or at most retains its minimal identity, while it projects the inherent and intrinsic quality of something. It is on this account that abstract art is sometimes also known as non-figurative art. A splatter painting is not merely the outcome of an accident; it is created by the artist with both deliberate and unplanned actions. Many factors, such as the movement of the artist, the absorption by the canvas, the rheology of the paint, the effect of the gravity, the distance of the application, the type of the applicant, and the force of the application, matter in the development of a splatter painting. A single drip or splatter speaks a lot more than one might think. A splatter the color of blood, for example, depicts a time of trauma, with bright blood showing a recent incident while red mixed with a little black shows old blood.
1. No. 5, 1948
No. 5, 1948 is one of the most famous splatter paintings by Jackson Pollock. It was done on a 8×³ x 4×³ fiberboard. Thick brown and yellow paints were dripped on top of the painting and the drizzled paint created a nest-like effect. Samuel Irving Newhouse Jr. was its first owner. The painting was then sold to David Geffen. According to The New York Times, the painting was resold to David Martinez at the exorbitant price of $140 million. The sale was brokered by Sotheby auctioneers. Explaining his painting technique, Jackson Pollock said, ‘When I am in my painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing. It is only after a sort of get-acquainted period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well.” Jackson Pollock was the subject of an Academy Award winning film Pollock, made in 2000 by Ed Harris.
2. Nine Discourses on Commodus
Nine Discourses on Commodus is a set of nine splatter paintings by Edwin Parker Twombly, Jr. He was known for his large scrawled and calligraphic style splatter paintings. The Nine Discourses on Commodus reflects the pensive mood of 1960s, which were dominated by the Cuban missile crisis and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.The paintings were produced in the winter of 1963. The cycle of the paintings is dominated by conflict and tension as seen in the composition. The basis of the painting is the opposition and eventual murder of the emperor Aurelius Commodus in 192 CE. The grey background counterbalances the congealed blood splatters. The Nine Discourses on Commodus were first exhibited in March 1964 at Leo Castelli Gallery in New York.
3. Symphony in Blue
Symphony in Blue is a famous splatter painting created in 1958 by the famous American painter Samuel Lewis Francis. It is a gouache and watercolor on paper measuring 68.6 cm by 100 cm. Blue, white, yellow, black, and brown are used in the painting, with blue dominating and brown only in traces. The upper half is predominantly blue while the lower half is dominated by white. Francis was injured during test flight maneuvers while he was serving in the US Air Force. An artist friend David Park visited him in the hospital and it was after his visit that Francis started painting.
4. Blood Lines
Blood Lines are splatter paintings of Hermann Nitsch, who is regarded by some fans as the Pope of Viennese actionism. In 1986 he created a splatter painting on a 200 x 300 cm canvas in oil and acrylic. On a very light grayish background, three very forceful splashes of fresh blood are seen dripping downward in parallel lines of different lengths. The top of the painting is almost 99% red, while the bottom and sides are left clean. Only one splash, dripping from the top, reaches the bottom in a fine straight line. The splatter as a whole appears like a red silhouette of a banyan tree, with many red aerial roots hanging towards the ground.
5. Superhero Splatter Art
Superhero Splatter Art is a series of splatter paintings created by the Canadian artist Melissa Smith. There are people who consider splatter paintings as nothing but kid’s fun. Anyone who does not consider splatter paintings a serious art form shall be instantly convinced of the potential and intrinsic energy of the splatter paintings, if they happen to see this series of paintings. It is probably the most effective and easy technique to depict superheroes and to draw the attention of audience. Smith’s splatter paintings of superheroes, including Spiderman, Batman, and the Avengers, are valuable additions in the history of art.
6. Gold Fish Splatter Painting
A stunning goldfish splatter painting was created by Chen Yingjie ‘Hua Tunan’. Living in the coastal city of Foshan, he is a very talented emerging Chinese artist. He is very innovative and has combined the traditional Chinese art with typical American graffiti. Three gold fish heading towards the center are portrayed in orange, yellow, red and traces of black on a very light pink background. Fine particles splattered around the fish determine their direction of movement, and each dot seems to have been placed deliberately in an optimal position to give the illusion of depth and motion.
7. Star War Splatter
Star War Splatter is a series by the French graphic designer Arian Noveir. He has portrayed the Star Wars characters in paint splatter style. All the Star Wars characters are created digitally. The characters include Darth Vader, Yoda, C3PO, and Chewbacca. The paint is splattered around the digitally formed portraits. Splatter paint imparts a special effect, creating space and motion. The splatter paint also creates the three dimensional effect. Black and red colors are used in contrast with the white background.
8. The Kiss
The Kiss was created in 1908 by the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt. The painting shows a couple in robes, locked in close intimacy. The girl is standing on a flowery bed. Embellishments attached to the bottom of the girl’s robe touch the bed of flowers like small golden chains. The background of the painting is covered with gold leaf with layer of paint over it. Paint is splattered around the couple and is reflecting like hundreds of shining objects, which, along with the splattered background, is suggestive of the sweet-smelling environment. It is an oil on canvas painting and is at display at Osterreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna. After painting The Kiss, Klimt wrote ‘If you can not please everyone with your deeds and your art, please a few”.
9. Shattered Color
Shattered Color is a splatter painting created by Lee Krasner in 1947. Only a few of her splatter paintings survive, as she used to tear them up to create collages or just dispose of the paintings after she finished, probably on account of her own dissatisfaction. It is generally considered that the splatter painting is the result of a non-deliberate and unplanned effort. Had this been true, she would not have destroyed her paintings, because in fact an artist is almost never satisfied that they have arrived at the desired goal. Lee Krasner was the wife of Jackson Pollock, but she has earned her own recognition in the field of splatter paintings.
10. Meet Me in the Park
Meet Me in the Park is a splatter painting by the abstract expressionist Norman Bluhm. It is an exemplary splatter painting, created by one splatter in black over a light pink background. The image appears like a horse’s neck, which has been targeted with numerous darts as often happens in a bullfight. On the upper right corner appear the words meet me in the park in the graffiti style and they are balanced by the words, if you love me, appearing in the lower left half. The painting depicts the tormented but resolute love.
Although some people presume that a splatter painting is nothing but child’s play, it is a serious art form. Hua Tunan’s goldfish and parrot portraits with splatter paint are very attractive and absorbing. The tail feathers of the parrot are an excellent examples of drip and splatter control. The design of the splatter painting narrates the story, as the blood oozing out due to a bullet or sword differs in its design according to the subject and the artist. It is these small, important details that the splatter painting depicts effectively.