Learn / Create

Dan Colen

Exploring Art by Chance

Greenwich April 15th, 2020

Dan Colen: Confetti Paintings

The process used to make the confetti works is akin to that employed by Jackson Pollock when creating his legendary ‘Action Paintings,’ in which paint was applied to canvas through energetic gestures rather than with exactingly deliberate intent. With the canvas laid upon a flat surface, Colen throws handfuls of confetti downwards, allowing the material to coalesce and form patterns in a totally arbitrary manner: the resulting intricacy of pattern, colour and texture recalls not only the work of Pollock but also of other Abstract Expressionist artists such as Joan Mitchell.1

Mr. Colen uses it [confetti] in pieces that explore the role of chance in making art. By throwing it onto canvases and seeing where it lands, Mr. Colen said, he “eliminates having to make decisions.” And though he also uses paint to make canvases that only look like they’ve been strewn with confetti, he bases those on photographs that he takes of the real thing, “recording a frozen moment that avoids invention,” he said.2

  1. 1  http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2014/contemporary-art-evening-auction-l14020/lot.56.html
  2. 2  https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/10/arts/design/10colen.html


Dan Colen: Help! (The Brant Foundation, Greenwich, CT)

The Brant Foundation Lecture Series – Peter Brant & Dan Colen in Conversation with Mark Tribe

Free Arts Day with Dan Colen (The Brant Foundation, Greenwich, CT)

Dan Colen Brings A Downtown Aesthetic To The Brant Foundation

Dan Colen: Help! Exhibition Catalogue

Dan Colen: The L… o… n… g Count



Use a blank piece of paper as your canvas. Choose a few different sheets of colored paper (or color your own) and cut out about 20 pieces in various shapes and sizes. Sprinkle the colored pieces over your blank paper and glue them down wherever they happen to fall. Repeat this step two more times. You have just made an artwork based on pure chance!