Drip painting is a form of abstract art in which paint is dripped or poured on to the canvas. This style of action painting was experimented with in the first half of the twentieth century by such artists as Francis Picabia, André Masson and Max Ernst, who employed drip painting in his works The Bewildered Planet, and Young Man Intrigued by the Flight of a Non-Euclidean Fly (1942). Ernst used the novel means of painting Lissajous figures by swinging a punctured bucket of paint over a horizontal canvas.
Drip painting is a painting technique that was developed by the surrealist and Dadaist painter Max Ernst as an oscillation and for the first time in the picture The confused planet(1942) was seen. A tin can was used for this, which the artist attached to a string of one to two meters in length. This had a small hole on the underside from which the liquid paint filled in the can could drip out. By swinging the can back and forth over a flat canvas, lines were created on the surface that are reminiscent of mathematical graphs. Max Ernst, who invented several painting and drawing techniques that create random structures, used dripping only in some pictures of his late work.
Knud Merrild (1894-1954) at the same time created works using this technique, which he called “Flux Paintings”, including the 1942 painting Perceptual Possibility (Museum of Modern Art New York).
The technique became known in particular through the American painter Jackson Pollock. Pollock mainly created large-format works for which the canvas was laid on the floor. The paint was applied with large brushes or dripping and spinning directly from the paint pots. Another, more extreme form of drip painting is the bulk pattern, such as works by Hermann Nitsch and Josef Trattner.
Drip painting was however to find particular expression in the work of the mid-twentieth-century artists Janet Sobel and Jackson Pollock. Pollock found drip painting to his liking; later using the technique almost exclusively, he would make use of such unconventional tools as sticks, hardened brushes and even basting syringes to create large and energetic abstract works. Pollock used house or industrial paint to create his paintings—Pollock’s wife Lee Krasner described his palette as “typically a can or two of … enamel, thinned to the point he wanted it, standing on the floor besides the rolled-out canvas” and that Pollock used Duco or Davoe and Reynolds brands of house paint. House paint was less viscous than traditional tubes of oil paint, and Pollock thus created his large compositions horizontally to prevent his paint from running. His gestural lines create a unified overall pattern that allows the eye to travel from one of the canvases to the other and back again.
Sources for the drip technique include Navajo sandpainting. Sandpainting was also performed flat on the ground. Another source is the “underpainting” techniques of the Mexican muralists painters. The drip–splash marks made by mural painter David Alfaro Siqueiros allow him to work out his composition of a multitude of Mexican workers and heroes.
The pictorial material (which is not usually oil, but some type of opaque enamel or industrial varnish, such as those used for the first time by Pollock himself around 1947 ) is allowed to drip onto the fabric spread on the floor from a perforated container or spreads by splashing, directly with your hands or by using brushes or any other instrument.
In the 1950s and 1960s, dripping was frequently employed by European informal movements. Contemporary artists who have used drip painting include Lynda Benglis, Norman Bluhm, Dan Christensen, Ian Davenport, Ronald Davis, Rodney Graham, John Hoyland, Ronnie Landfield, Zane Lewis, Joan Mitchell, Roxy Paine, Larry Poons, Pat Steir, Andre Thomkins, and Zevs.
Since the early 2000s, some taggers, such as Nebay and Erote in Paris, or Cloun in Lyon, have used dripping to put their names on the sidewalks.