In her statement for "The Forever Now," the contemporary painting show on view at MOMA through April 5, 2015, curator Laura Hoptman makes a case that the Internet enables painters to sample styles from art history, creating an “ahistorical free-for-all” in which artists are “reanimating historical styles or recreating a contemporary version of them, sampling motifs from across the timeline of 20th-century art in a single painting or across an oeuvre, or radically paring their language down to the most archetypal forms.” As a painter and an art professor, I can confirm that this is true.
Most painters, regardless of generation, rely heavily on the Internet to find reference images, to research other artists who have trodden similar paths, and to form communities of kindred artistic spirits. Online research has been especially important in raising the profiles of under-recognized artists and art movements. I never would have discovered my own work's connection with the Supports/Surfaces artists such as Claude Viallat without the Internet.
Indeed, many of the seventeen artists included in "The Forever Now" work with abstract visual languages, imagery, and ideas found online. Who doesn’t? The more important factor that seems to tie these painters together--and this is where Hoptman’s eye comes into play--is a rather dispiriting interest in strategy and finish over experimentation and heart.