Gestalten has just published a survey of the resurgence of figurative realism that is now overturning the art world, spotlighting the torrent of young contemporary artists who view late 20th century Modernism as a dead-end movement that has reached its logical conclusion and exhausted itself. This new avant-garde is pulling off a come-from-behind "upset" as they turn their backs on the conceptual conceits of the art establishment by adopting the skillful execution last seen in 17th and 19th century painting.
In the late 1990s, Classical Realist ateliers perfected their archaeological recovery effort, and now young artists are reaping the rewards by pointing their bazooka-sized skill sets at contemporary subject matter inspired by science fiction, comic book illustration, street art, and other sources. The Upset offers a who's-who of this broad movement with interviews, biographies and beautifully photographed artwork.
Taking the art world by storm, artists of The Upset like David Kassan and Mark Ryden (who draws inspiration from post-modernism's whipping boys Bruegel, Ingres and Bouguereau) are running circles around the current generation of institutional elites who took great pleasure in declaring the death of painting in the 1960s and '70s.
It seems that the dustbin of history has been flipped over unexpectedly, and if the trends documented in The Upset continue on their current trajectory, in twenty years we may find ourselves looking back on late Modernism as an odd interruption in the continuing two-thousand-year historical narrative of Western painting.