Art satisfies an important need for men. It brings complex abstractions closer to the perceptual level, enabling men to more fully grasp them. Art accomplishes this through a process of embodying the abstraction in the form of a concrete.

Art does not just concretize the abstraction by merely creating an instance of it. Art attempts to embody the abstraction. It creates a single instance, but the instance is based on the essential nature of the concept. When we form a concept, we omit all of the non-essential qualities. The abstraction that remains is based only on essential characteristics. It is these characteristics that art tries to produce in a single concrete form.

The result really is an embodiment of the abstraction. The product retains only what the artist deems important. Since it consists of just the essential aspects of the abstraction, and contains all of the essentials, it allows the abstraction to be grasped directly as an entity.

The importance of this tool of cognition is incalculable. By portraying the abstraction in this way, it gains the immediacy of a perceivable concrete. It magnifies the usefulness of the concept by allowing a more thorough integration and understanding of it. Instead of trying to understand things in term of an abstraction of many entities, the single concrete embodiment serves as a perfect example of the abstraction.

To bring the abstraction into clarity, it needs to be created in its essential form. To be meaningful, it needs to be created in a recognizable form. To this end, art is a selective re-creation of reality.

Art is selective. The artist must pick not only the form in which he intends to create the art, but he must pick a subject. This subject is not random. It is picked by the artist for some significance it has for him. The choice of the subject is based on the artist's philosophy. Importance to the artist is based on his world-view. The subject is that which the artist believes has a wide-reaching importance to himself. The content is based on his sense of life. His emotional evaluation of the aspects of reality he finds important.

Art is a re-creation. It is created in order to grasp clearly an aspect of the artist's world view. If the concretization of the idea happened naturally, one would not have a problem of bringing the abstraction to a perceivable form. It would already be done. Art is an attempt to fill a gap. It is an act of creation to bring into the world a clear representation of an aspect of one's world-view.

Art is a re-creation of reality. Its purpose is to embody an idea, showing that it can exist in reality. If the creation required non-real qualities in order to be able to embody the idea, it could not be convincing. If an artist, in trying to show that man should live a life devoid of 'materialism', had to resort to describing an imaginary being that required no food, protection from the elements, or any other human need, it would rob the creation of the ability to concretize an abstractions in order to achieve further understanding or efficacy.

An artist does need to create that which doesn't exist already, or in a sufficiently consistent form. To this end, the artist isn't replicating reality. Fiction is a form of art that doesn't mirror reality. But the artist, in order to convey the message, must not only show what the message is, but how it can exist in reality. If he fails in the second half, it will undermine the first. To this end, the imaginary or impossible can supplement the art, but cannot serve as its foundation. This is why art needs to be a selective recreation of reality.

Copyright 2001 by Jeff Landauer and Joseph Rowlands