Formal - formalism


Derived from the word 'form', 'formal' refers to prescribed rules and traditional methods relative to that which gives a work of art form---shape, size, color, scale, etc. In England and the United States, Formalism is generally associated with modern art and especially with critics Clement Greenberg, Clive Bell and Roger Fry. They sought to develop a systematic approach of analyzing formal qualities of artwork rather than using social context or the artist's declared intent. With Formalism, they hoped to have a method of critiquing artwork with line, shape, color, etc. regardless of its place of origin. Clement Greenberg especially applied Formalism to his reviews of Abstract Expressionist painters in New York City. However, Pop Artists undercut the method because social message was the only basis of their painting. Source: Robert Atkins, "Art Speak"