This state of affairs naturally has implications for the question with which we must start: to which art should design be contrasted? I propose that design be contrasted with figurative art or Realism, and not with abstract art.
This decision is justifiable because logically it cannot be argued that Realism is not art, for Realism is the only historical and prehistorical sanction for the use of the term “art” in relation to painting and sculpture. Any attempt to claim that Realism is not art will necessarily be betrayed by an internal contradiction. By contrast, there is no logical self-contradiction in doubting the conventional designation today by which abstract art is considered art. Secondly, I do not propose to compare design to abstract art, because it is not possible to provide a clear specification of the works that ought to be assigned to this art. It is impossible to point to the necessary and sufficient conditions that make something a work of abstract art. The history of this art shows manifestly that everything, including nothing at all; may be accepted as a work of abstract art. Thirdly, the most profound difference between Realism and abstract art is that every figurative painting has a clear cognitive function, one of connection and classification.
A figurative painting is a pictorial connector or a pictorial universal, just like any concept in natural language. The same connective function is present in any formula, number or pattern. That is to say, a figurative painting that depicts a horse does not depict a specific hone but depicts all horses, just as the word “horse” does not denote any specific horse but denotes any horse. By contrast, no abstract painting is a pictorial connector because it doe, not serve as a pictorial label for any class of objects, concrete or abstract On the contrary, it itself needs a verbal connector or verbal label to give it a name or meaning_ A figurative painting is a symbol, part of a pictorial symbol system, and as such is a mind tool. An abstract painting, by contrast, is a result of atomization or fractionization of the traditional system of pictorial symbols, i.e., it is simply a perceptual phenomenon or an object Within the context of this essay I have no intention nor pretense of refuting the view that abstract art is art. Such refutation would require an excursus that would take fax from the framework of this essay. At this stage, however, all. I want to argue is that there exists real legitimation for doubting the accepted view today that abstract art is art, and thus to justify the decision taken here to contrast design to Realism and not to abstract art.