Next Previous Back to All Terms

Formalism is a mode of art criticism and theory according to which every piece of art has an inbred aesthetic value. These values are brought about by the artist's ability to balance and set the elements of the artwork in order. Colours, lines, shapes, space, tones and textures are the basic elements of an artwork. Formalism claims that the whole aesthetic experience of the artwork is not determined by the artists intention of making it or the historical and social context of the work. This does not mean that the whole motivational aspect can be separated from the artwork, but that these purely visual elements give a starting edge to the understanding of the artwork.

Piet Mondrian, Taleau II, 1921- 25, private collection, Zurich