John Berger was the writer behind WAYS OF SEEING, a 1972 television series (and accompanying book) in art and politics that has been very influential in academic discussions of that crossroads.
He has a new book out, PORTRAITS, and I've been looking at a review of it in the February 2016 issue of HARPER's. The review, written by Mark Kingwell, calls this a "monumental late-life collection of some six dozen appreciations of individual artists."
One of these appreciations, of Vincent van Gogh, says this: "All modern artists have thought of their innovations as offering a closer approach to reality, as a way of making reality more evident. It is here, and only here, that the modern artist and revolutionary have sometimes found themselves side by side, both inspired by the idea of pulling down the screen of clichés."
Kingwell, the reviewer, finds this idea touching, but naïve. "What force in such dreams, then, down here on planet Earth?" he asks.