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Formalism in Modern Art Collage

Formalism in Modern Art

"Nature contains the elements, in color and form, of all pictures, as the keyboard contains the notes of all music. But the artist is born to pick, and choose, and group with science, these elements, that the result may be beautiful - as the musician gathers his notes, and forms his chords, until he bring forth harmony."

James Whistler Signature

Key Ideas

A painting's form is composed of its basic elements: color, line, composition, and texture. These elements constitute the fundamental language used by formalist art critics to examine and analyze works of art.
Whether an artwork is a pure abstraction or representational, a formalist looks for the same basic elements and judges a painting's value based on the artist's ability to achieve a cohesive balance in the composition.
If a painting is deemed deficient in value, it was because the artist had failed to create a visual balance of the formal painterly elements.
Formalism in Modern Art Image

Beginnings:

Philosopher Plato developed a "Theory of Forms" based on the idea of eidos, roughly translated to mean "stature" or "appearance." Plato applied the term broadly in his various dialogs to suggest a rudimentary universal language. Every earthly object, he posited, whether tangible (like a chair) or abstract (like human virtue), shared one aspect: they all had a form.

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Justin Wolf

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Definition Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Justin Wolf
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
Available from:
First published on 01 Sep 2012. Updated and modified regularly. Information
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