No of course if you are an artist you don't HAVE to make a living at it, but it would certainly be wonderful if we could. Seven you seem to think that is an impossibility, this is what irks me. I have to believe somewhere there is an editor who would not make me bow and scrape to get published. Wouldn't you?
Artists who are purchased by the wealthy collectors are not necessarily making things to flatter their tastes. Artists do subsist in our culture as a parasitic entity, I grant you that, but the issue is the EV USA show isn't as bad as you make it out to be. And alot of that art wouldn't flatter anyone's Park Avenue living room.
Have you gone to see it?
Here is Marcel Proust in 1896 writing on the 'persona' of the artist in Paris, through the point of view of two poseur bourgeoisies Bouvard and Pecuchet:
"Every artist is a humbug, estranged from his family, never wears a top hat, and speaks a special language. He spends half his life outsmarting bailiffs who are always trying to dispossess him. The other half is spent dreaming up grotesque disguises for masked balls. Nevertheless, artists constantly produce masterpieces, and for a great many of them an overindulgence in wine and mistresses is the sine qua non of their inspiration if not their genius. They sleep all day, go out all night, work God knows when, and with heads flung back and limp scarves fluttering in the wind, they perpetually roll their cigarettes."
I think most people still consider the artist in exactly this manner! And not as any kind of social engineer.