At first, it would seem that there are not two more disparate stylists than Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol, but 2012 is the 100th anniversary of Pollock's birth and the 25th anniversary of Warhol's death, and that is just the start of how the two greatest American artists of the 20th century are joined together.
Both Pollock and Warhol were the pampered last sons of a brood of brothers, the sickly Andy nursed in bed for a year by his mom and the neurotic Jackson indulged by a willful wilderness mother. Each hooked up early with a talented male artist mentor, Reuben Nakian for Jackson and Philip Pearlstein for Andy, and both Pollock and Warhol served long apprenticeships in the craft vineyards, Jackson at the WPA and Andy in the bosom of I. Magnin drawing shoes and designing jazz album covers.
Has anyone ever seen Lee Krasner and Fred Hughes in the same room together? Drag lookalikes, both were devoted to their painterly men. Both Jackson and Andy died young, yet both suffered post-star rejection by the "best minds of the New York art world," with Pollock's figurative black enamel paintings and Warhol's collaborations with Jean-Michel Basquiat initially striking the experts as a low ebb.
They are linked too by Warhol's "Oxidation Paintings" of 1977-78, and the tale from the 1989 Naifeh-Smith biography that young Jackson was set on his way after seeing his father piss on a rock.
Pollock and Warhol advanced the process of Pablo Picasso through supple drips and silkscreen multiples, identifiable styles concealing individual variations of Duchampian variety and cultural insight.
Heaven merges in a Silver Factory, with the Cedar Tavern in its back room, where Ondine flirts with Franz Kline and International Velvet unsuccessfully seduces Frank O'Hara, while Taylor Mead tries to borrow a fin from Peggy Guggenheim (that's slang for a $5 bill). So maybe Jackson and Andy can finally rest in peace in 2012, as something radically new emerges in the New York art world, in which Pollock forgeries and Warhol authentication, not to mention dollars on demand for anything they made, becomes irrelevant. Dream on!
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).