Art vs. Commercialism was one of the great debates that got hashed out time and again when I was in school - along with "Are the American crafts purely Craft or also Fine Art?" It was amazing to watch professors go for the jugular over that one (picture a bunch of academics mud wrestling and you'll come close).
The life cycle of [modern] Art:
Ingenuity → Mainstream / Commercialism → stagnation → revolution. Repeat.
Enter original 80's powerhouses → copy-cats→ way too many → Aquatics
With the shift from naturals to synthetics maybe we're waiting for the turn around of some larger cycle with greater innovations. Perhaps that will come from France and the meg-corps, or not. But they'll cling to their Imperial status as long as possible.
Oh, who will save us from the lengthening shadows of Middle Earth? The niche houses - and e-bay?