The future of fine art is easy to predict in broad terms.
Art’s future is predictable because it continues to repeat its history – only in new configurations that use and stimulate the science, technology, and social insights of its current times.
Yet the artists who are creating the future of art can be difficult to recognize and invest in collecting their works. It is scientifically difficult to literally see, and then recognize what is truly revolutionary and new in its own time.
Few people have the ability (brains) that allow them to be early adopters in any field. This is because we perceive (including see) see through our memories. Our brains are wired to perceive what is familiar – not new and unfamiliar. That needs to be learned.
When something radically new is presented to us it is difficult and uncomfortable for us to perceive it. Early adopters seem to enjoy this level of discomfort, their experiences with perceiving what is new have been positive (perhaps and especially as young children), so they naturally reach out for the unknown idea or item.
This kind of adoption is different from that of the majority who are eager to own the latest tech gadget that is really at best an improvement of previous gadgets that were generally accepted. Such a gadget is not actually radically new. Therefore tablets, which are just a new form of PC, caught on quickly. They are basically smaller laptops or bigger PC-based phones. The original technology that was radically new and climbed the mountain to gain acceptance was the idea of PCs and then that they could be linked through the something we now call the Internet.
In fine art this tends to make artists, even contemporary artists who are making works much like the artists of a previous generation acceptable. Contemporary artists whose works resemble Picasso type abstractions, Abstract Expressionism, and Pop Art are acceptable but appear to be new because they use new materials or have some twist. These works are not revolutionary, just new twists on what was previously revolutionary. These artists and their works are discovered by the art world “cognoscenti” and accepted into a blue-chip gallery fold. It is as if the fact that a work has sold for a high price somehow makes it radical, even revolutionary. Yet, art history shows that many works by now almost forgotten establishment artists sold for high prices in their day.
Currently once actually radical Conceptual art and artists like Lawrence Weiner are now also accepted. Now that these works are accepted, they are not actually currently radically new, but they were radical and pioneering until enough (a tipping point) of had enough encounters with them so they could readily be seen and understood.
Ironically, this ready acceptance of artists who are new with a slight twist but not really revolutionary is also predictable and a part of art’s history.
In fine art the past exists to give us shoulders to stand on so we can see and direct a path to the future. Art (I mean great art) is ALWAYS revolutionary, which implies a lack of nostalgia — just ask Gauguin and probably the other artists who overturned the established norm of their time.
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