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Formalism in Modern Art Collage

Formalism in Modern Art

Quotes

"The creative force and the expressiveness of painting reside materially in the color and texture of pigment, in the possibilities of form invention and organization, and in the flat plane on which these elements are brought to play. The artist is concerned solely with linking these absolute qualities directly to his wit, imagination and experience, without the go-betweens of a 'subject.' Working on a single plane as the instantaneous visualizing factor, he realizes his mind motives and physical sensations in a permanent and universal language of color, texture, and form organization. He uncovers the pure plane of expression that has so long been hidden by the glazings of nature imitation, anecdote and other popular subjects. Accordingly the artist's work is to be measured by the vitality, the invention, and the definiteness and conviction of purpose within his own medium."
Man Ray
"It has been in the search of the absolute that the avant-garde has arrived at 'abstract' or 'nonobjective' art - and poetry, too...Content is to be dissolved so completely into form that the work of art or literature cannot be reduced in whole or in part to anything not itself."
Clement Greenberg
"The essence of Modernism lies, as I see it, in the use of characteristic methods of a discipline to criticize the discipline itself, not in order to subvert it but in order to entrench it more firmly in its area of competence."
Clement Greenberg
"Color is a plastic means of creating intervals...color harmonics produced by special relationships, or tensions. We differentiate now between formal tensions and color tensions, just as we differentiate in music between counterpoint and harmony."
Hans Hofmann

"Nature contains the elements, in colour 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.

Detailed View

Formalism in Modern Art Image

Plato's Theory of Forms

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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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
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