All assumptions about the stylistic evolution in painting for the last 100 years are suspect. The idea that there is somehow "progress" in stylistic evolution is false. What one might see as the evolution of painting in the twentieth century, the popular path, Picasso to Pop, is only part of the story. It was built on the idea of the "modern", the constant roiling change of styles leading into the future. It was about the radical social changes brought forth by the industrial revolution. (From my remark in the comments section of the previous post.)
Painting and the Industrial Revolution: "The effects [of the industrial revolution] spread throughout Western Europe and North America during the 19th century, eventually affecting most of the world. The impact of this change on society was enormous and is often compared to the Neolithic revolution, when mankind developed agriculture and gave up its nomadic lifestyle." [Wiki] The Industrial Revolution ushered in the modern age and the shift away from an agricultural to an urban lifestyle. Coincident with this radical social change was the invention of photography which provided an alternative to painting for documentary representation.
No longer confined to strict representation, painting in the Modern era (roughly 1840 on) began to explore other modes of expression, which for lack of a better word I am referring to as "styles". I cannot think of another period in the past where there has been such a rapid and radical evolution of pictorial styles. The modern quest for the "new" resulted in the proliferation and rapid turnover in pictorial styles.
If I can digress for a moment here, I concede that "personal style", the way a painter makes a painting, the trace of the hand, can be unique within certain categorical parameters. This is an important aspect of the work which conveys personal identity. It is not what I am referring to as "style" for this discussion. When I say "style" I mean "cubism" and the like.
Painters who desired to make "advanced work" saw the quest for the "new", the invention of a "different" pictorial style, as the path to follow. So here we are, 160 or so years later and I want to suggest that this course of inquiry cannot logically continue. Because the course of this inquiry is closed, it is a loop. Once someone makes a "stripe painting" it becomes a definition and the stripe paintings which follow are variants and therefore technically not "new".
While I have no doubts that there will continue to be "new styles" I am questioning whether this can continue to occur at the same pace as we proceed further into the new century. Is this quest for "newness", nothing more than just playing "dress up" with painting, reducing it to nothing more than an ever-changing decorative fashion?
Is to be the course for painting for the next 100 years? I don't think so.