In the thought of Plotinus, the imagination is responsible for the apprehension of the activity of Intellect. If creativity in the arts involves an exercise of the imagination, the image-making power that links sense perception to noetic thought and the nous poietikos, the poetic or creative intellect, then the arts exercise the apprehension of intellectual activity. According to John Dillon in “Plotinus and the Transcendental Imagination,” Plotinus’ conception of the imagination led to the formulation of the imagination as a basis of artistic creativity. In Plotinus, imagination operates on several different levels: it produces images in sense perception, it synthesizes images in dianoetic thought, and it produces images in correspondence with the articulation through logos of noetic thought. The imagination is what connects the intelligible in intellect and the form in sense perception. Plotinus imagines an art which is a product of noetic thought as made possible by the imagination. The primary principle of beauty is Intellect, from which all images should be taken, as facilitated by imagination. Forms of art, like the forms of nature, are the product of Intellect. The production of a work of art is an intellectual or spiritual exercise of the imagination that allows apprehension of Intellect and noesis in nous poietikos. All art is metaphysical, and is an expression of intelligible form in imagination, an expression of an intellectual idea that can be differentiated from sensible form in intellectual apprehension. There are many ways in which the tenets of the thought of Plotinus become currents of art and aesthetic theory as it develops to the present day.
Hendrix, John S., "Plotinus and the Artistic Imagination" (2015). School of Architecture, Art, and Historic Preservation Faculty Publications. 31.