Enough about modernism. I think the division of western art in abstract and figurative or realistic streams, is a big error. For an essential dichotomy we have to look for long term differences between main traditions in the history of at least a couple of millennia, instead of such a recent and superficial controverse. Why didn’t that happen before? 

Probably because in the minds of European art-historians the trails of the so called “classic” tradition of the Greek-Roman and Christian civilizations are so deep and self-evident, that the less reputable tracks of much older origin, like the 'barbaric' tradition of the Celts, ot the 'hostile' patterns of the Arabs, are easily neglected or not considered of the same level and importance.  Whereas in the minds of many artists the level of public acceptance doesn’t count at all when they’re digging for the most authentic and strongest expression. Speaking for myself, I never felt familiar with slick imitations of reality. Even when I admire them at first sight, they don’t satisfy me in the long run. I prefer a work of art to be a riddle that's not easy to solve. Why call something abstract when it's only intriguing? Real art is never abstract.