Life always has been and always will be the raw material of art,"" claims George Biddle, an artist himself. Form, devoid of content, can never evoke the deepest human emotions which are universal responses to great art. The most significant criticism of abstract art is its general inability to communicate life themes at many levels. Mr. Biddle presents a detailed analysis of contemporary art from the birth of the idea, to the creative act, to the reception of the finished product. A comparative study selectively discriminates great art through the ages to discover what it is that made it great. Consistently, it is the translation of nature into significant form executed in such a way that viewers are intensely moved. Modern art has a muddled and chaotic character which reflects the age. Liberated from the restrictions of classicism, an anarchic freedom has emerged- as yet unchanneled and unguided. The dehumanization aspect of contemporary art is directly attributable to the age; however, it is not germane to the positive contributions of the movement. Cubism and abstractionism are examples of matterless form. But the Ben Shahns, Philip Evergoods, and Diego Riveras will live on. Mr. Biddle boasts of having known practically every artist of import in our generation. His prolific recording of conversations with people like Leger, George Grosz, Gertrude and Leo Stein (to mention a few) would seem to indicate this. Aside from excessive verbiage and protracted theorizing, the book is a refreshing change from the abundance of apologias for cubism and abstractionism. A defined market.