I got to thinking, if in our current age is so shallow, has there been other shallow periods in time? Well that answer is a resounding, YES. The Roman Empire had several period of great shallowness. The French Rococo period was shallow city. One of the great painters of the Rococo, the Jeff Koons of his age, is Jean-Honore Fragonard (1732-1806) made plenty of paintings with a wink and a nudge. The French Rococo was all about giving what the collectors wanted, i.e. sex, powerful portraits, and more sex. Don't get me wrong, the work is beautiful and not Everything that came out of that period reflects those ideas, but a Lot of the work was tailor made for the idol rich. Shallow customers = shallow art.
So, if the problem is the tastes of the collectors driving the tastes of the museums, then how do we create non-shallow collectors? You have to appeal to their non-shallow side, because I can assure you everyone has that side. For example, the Neo-Classical art romanticized about Republics, Democracy and Egalitarianism. (Two out of three is not bad). Those collectors believed in something greater than themselves and it reflected in what they bought and the artists they promoted. How do you appeal to the non-shallow side of the current collectors? I don't have an answer, but I am willing to listen to some ideas.