Recently a reader wrote with regard to the ongoing discussion of the "death" of abstraction and other painting styles which I would now considered merely "periods" in art making up the inventory of your friendly, neighborhood art gallery.

I think portraiture is very "in" now...

Be careful here, portraiture is a SUBJECT MATTER, not a STYLE. As a subject, portraits have never been OUT. They are one of the most consistant subjects in art. Portraits can be painted in a variety of styles (though probably not Abstract Expressionism). Now, as a portrait painter, and a realist, I come around to the fact that we have to be objective as we speak historically about our favorite style of art because there is a natural bias toward the individual's personal style of painting. A reference was made with regard to abstract painting to the fact that I noted, "People don't KNOW what the LIKE, they merely LIKE what the KNOW." The inference I think being that I didn't LIKE abstraction because I didn't KNOW it. Both are false. I both KNOW and LIKE abstraction, which I guess underscores the validity of the saying. In fact, I at no point had anything negative to say about abstraction as a style, but merely that it was no longer a moving force in the art world. (I thus used the term "dead", which I guess incited the near riot here in this nest of abstractionists.) In fact I pointed out that there IS NO moving force in the art world today. Painters produce what sells, but commercialism is not a painting style. It's an economic force, not an artistic force.

If any art style, as a force to be reckoned with, can be seen looming on the horizon in art, it is NOT in (traditional) painting but in cybernetics, the art of VIRTUAL REALITY--reality akin to Realism (the painting style) yet beyond Realism--360 degrees of three-dimensional "painted" art in which the viewer wears a isolating helmet and is placed in the MIDDLE, surrounded by the sights and sounds of an artist-created environment just a few short, technical steps (at the moment) from our perceived reality. Now THAT'S cutting edge. That's an art movement powerful enough to make even the most jaded critic set up and take notice. And, it's a virtually unlimited canvas with a virtually unlimited palette and virtually unlimited possibilities. It has the potential to put in the hands of a single artist, or group of artists, artistic effects to dwarf the efforts of James Cameron and the crew of the (movie) Titanic. In other words, painters, if you want to be a moving force in the world of art, trade in your brushes for a mouse.