Science and Art (Wagner)

“True that the artist does not at first proceed directly; he certainly sets about his work in an arbitrary, selective, and mediating mood. But while he plays the go-between and picks and chooses, the product of his energy is not as yet the Work of Art; nay, his procedure is the rather that of Science, who seeks and probes, and therefore errs in her caprice. Only when his choice is made, when this choice was born from pure Necessity,—when thus the artist has found himself again in the subject of his choice, as perfected Man finds his true self in Nature,—then steps the Art-work into life, then first is it a real thing, a self-conditioned and immediate entity.”

-Richard Wagner (from Artwork of the Future)



As Wagner finds that man’s error is his separation from nature, thus science becomes the tool of his error; it becomes the objective and scrupulous window with which men observe physical reality. But just as art brings us closer to oneness with the nature of reality so must we have something by which to construct its means. Thus, science becomes simply a tool used to separate or connect.


He makes the point that only when his choices are born from “pure necessity” in the creation of art does man find his “true self in Nature.” The curious word in this excerpt is “necessity” as the obvious question would be: what “necessity” is there found in the creation of art as a subjective undertaking? The necessity is that born from creative imagining and the perfection that is seen in the mind after probing, searching and waiting. What he speaks of is a certain unveiling that occurs in the realization of an art form. Instead of literal “creation” there is “revelation.” The choice to follow this vision or the choices of how to realize this revelation and that choice that brought him to this vision are of necessity. The correct use of choice is the expression of man’s spirit in the material world and so it becomes a “self-conditioned and immediate entity.”