buying art is more like investing in a commodity than buying a "disposable consumable" as you put it. "talent" has never been the sole driving force behind the art market, and there are plenty of artists with the ability to make realistic works, but who choose to delve into abstraction. artistic expression is more about articulating something within the culture you belong to, and the business side of it is like a lot of other businesses. it involves how you market yourself, who you know, how well you hustle, etc... maybe Rembrandt wasn't the best painter in the world during his lifetime, but something about his emotional, dark works highlighted some cultural undercurrent or mindset that made him popular. these days, with a more globalized and literate art market, and a greater knowledge of the art histories of several cultures, this is expressed in subtler and complex ways. "Western" art had a dilemma of the figure to resolve beginning around the time of the Impressionist movement, but contrast that with some place like India, where accurate figurative representation was never an important part of the art world or of what was considered artistic talent. The obsession with realistic paintings is a pretty Western-centric phenomenon and is boring as fuck, which is why realistic paintings are relegated mainly to crafts fairs and decorators galleries these days. The solution is Patrick Nagel.