Of course you are right. I went to what was supposed to be the top avant-garde art-photography gallery in NYC and was told that although they were willing to look at my work, I should be aware that every wall of every floor in the four-story space had been taken four years IN ADVANCE. So the obvious question is: How can you have an avant-garde gallery and decide what's going to be on the walls four years ahead of time?
The answer is you can't. Art has become a speculative commodity, where the "value" is determined almost exclusively by the signature. In fact, it's really a currency, not a commodity, just like paper money which has no intrinsic value except the signature. William Wegman's innumerable photos of his dogs are an example of this, and so are John Currin's caricature portraits of the glitterati. Instantly recognizable: empty of life as the moon.
Of course there's little new in this, and it wouldn't be so bad if the noise of auction didn't drown out creativity as it does. Van Gogh sold no paintings in his lifetime, you know. You might point to Basquiat and say that genius is inevitably discovered. But what if he hadn't been lucky enough to sell one of his $5 paintings to Andy Warhol who happened to be in the right mood that day?
I've done some actual conceptual work that is based on this, and even had it shown in a fine gallery in Miami. The irony was that the show consisted of a series of photos of a shopping mall under construction, where parts of the construction site looked exactly like the "installations" you see in galleries. The point was that while the public totally ignored what I photographed where it was originally, as soon as it was put in the "frame" of a gallery, the public looked at it as if it was made of gold.
Still, there are many today who have decided to go beyond the (perhaps necessary) steps of "Abstraction", "Deconstructivism", and anti-aestheticism ("Bad Painting"). This is not to say that Mimimalism and its cousins aren't legitimate. While you could give a "concert" which consists of destroying a piano with a sledge-hammer, it's inherently much more limited than music. The range of artistic expression is eventually founded on learning and respecting the value of technique and inspiration -- which untimately gives the gift of respect from the artist to the observer. Try falling in love with someone who doesn't care about you. Much of so-called modern art is like that. Nihilism is just frustrated egocentricity in disguise -- and though it can be clever (the graffiti "I Write On Your Wall" I saw in London, for instance) -- it's ultimately hollow, and the proof is the fact that it makes us feel that way ourselves. That's the difference.