I'm always reading books in-between others these days. I was reading Jean Paul Sartre's The Reprieve which I put on hold whilst I took up with Phillip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? for a forthcoming art project with the Tunnel Group. Then whilst cleaning out our front room for decorating Robin presented me with Tom Wolfe's The Painted Word, which I consumed very quickly; reading it at night and in the morning (a sign that I'm enjoying it).
It very succinctly reveals the way that modern art movements, since breaking from realism, were a series of reductions just like a good gravy, each new one breaking with a tradition in some way or another leading to Minimalism, Conceptual Art and plain Theory/Words on their own. Eventually, in the 70s, a reaction came in the form of representational work such as Photo Realism.
If you've never read it (as it first came out in 1976) and you're interested or puzzled by what was going on then I suggest you read this book. It's quite an easy read if you know your basic art history and is rather boisterous and amusing with occasional flurries of Latin thrown in the mix.