In art history, formalism is the study of art by analyzing and comparing form and style. Its discussion also includes the way objects are made and their purely visual or material aspects. In painting, formalism emphasizes compositional elements such as color, line, shape, texture, and other perceptual aspects rather than content, meaning, or the historical and social context. At its extreme, formalism in art history posits that everything necessary to comprehending a work of art is contained within the work of art. The context of the work, including the reason for its creation, the historical background, and the life of the artist, that is, its conceptual aspect is considered to be external to the artistic medium itself, and therefore of secondary importance.
Art history is the study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts; that is genre, design, format, and style. The study includes painting, sculpture, architecture, ceramics, furniture, and other decorative objects.
In the visual arts, style is a "...distinctive manner which permits the grouping of works into related categories" or "...any distinctive, and therefore recognizable, way in which an act is performed or an artifact made or ought to be performed and made". It refers to the visual appearance of a work of art that relates it to other works by the same artist or one from the same period, training, location, "school", art movement or archaeological culture: "The notion of style has long been the art historian's principal mode of classifying works of art. By style he selects and shapes the history of art".
The historical origin of the modern form of the question of aesthetic formalism is usually dated to Immanuel Kant and the writing of his third Critique where Kant states: "Every form of the objects of sense is either figure (Gestalt) or play (Spiel). In the latter case it is either play of figures or the mere play of sensations. The charm (Reiz) of colors... may be added, but the delineations (Zeichnung) in the... composition (Komposition)... constitute the proper object of the pure judgment of taste."The philosopher Donald Crawford has summarized Kant's position stating: "Thus, for Kant, form consists of the spatial... organization of elements: figure, shape, or delineation... In the parts of the Critique of Judgment in which form is emphasized as the essential aspect of beauty, Kant is consistently a pure formalist."
Immanuel Kant was an influential German philosopher in the Age of Enlightenment. In his doctrine of transcendental idealism, he argued that space, time, and causation are mere sensibilities; "things-in-themselves" exist, but their nature is unknowable. In his view, the mind shapes and structures experience, with all human experience sharing certain structural features. He drew a parallel to the Copernican revolution in his proposition that worldly objects can be intuited a priori ('beforehand'), and that intuition is therefore independent from objective reality. Kant believed that reason is the source of morality, and that aesthetics arise from a faculty of disinterested judgment. Kant's views continue to have a major influence on contemporary philosophy, especially the fields of epistemology, ethics, political theory, and post-modern aesthetics.
Nick Zangwill has defined formalism in art as referring to those properties "that are determined solely by sensory or physical properties—so long as the physical properties in question are not relations to other things and other times."The philosopher and architect Branko Mitrovic has defined formalism in art and architecture as "the doctrine that states that the aesthetic qualities of works of visual art derive from the visual and spatial properties."
Nick Zangwill is a British philosopher and Ferens Chair in Philosophy at the University of Hull. He is known for his expertise on the aesthetics of music and the philosophy of art.
According to the observation that works of art can in general contain formal properties and nonformal properties, the philosopher Nick Zangwill has delineated three types of formalism as they are encountered at the turn of the 21st century. First, Zangwill identifies extreme formalists who think "that all works of art are purely formal works—where a work is purely formal if all its aesthetic properties are formal aesthetic properties," then he defines anti-formalist thinkers as those who "think that no works of art have formal aesthetic properties."The third type which Zangwill identifies as representing the transition of the philosophy of aesthetics into the 21st century is that of moderate formalism, where its principal exponents defend the principle "that all the aesthetic properties of works of art in a select class are formal, and second, that although many works of art outside that class have nonformal aesthetic properties, many of those works also have important formal aesthetic properties that must not be ignored."
The philosopher Michalle Gal has offered a moderate version of formalism, entitled "Deep Formalism", which is a symbolic formalism based on philosophical aestheticism. The artwork is defined by her as deep form: "a form steeped in content that cannot be extracted from it. Artistic content, since it has no existence or sense apart from the form, cannot actually be referred to, other than speculatively. The content seals the form in an opaque, non-reflective, productive symbol."Here she introduces a broad concept of symbol, an opaque-productive symbol: one that is not transparent to preconceived or pre-determined referents and meanings, but rather produces new ones.
A formal analysis is an academic method in art history and criticism for analyzing works of art: "In order to perceive style, and understand it, art historians use 'formal analysis'. This means they describe things very carefully. These descriptions, which may include subjective vocabulary, are always accompanied by illustrations, so that there can be no doubt about what exists objectively".
Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into smaller parts in order to gain a better understanding of it. The technique has been applied in the study of mathematics and logic since before Aristotle, though analysis as a formal concept is a relatively recent development.
Aesthetics, or esthetics is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of art, beauty and taste and with the creation or appreciation of beauty.
Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten was a German philosopher. He was a brother to theologian Siegmund Jakob Baumgarten (1706–1757).
The term formalism describes an emphasis on form over content or meaning in the arts, literature, or philosophy. A practitioner of formalism is called a formalist. A formalist, with respect to some discipline, holds that there is no transcendent meaning to that discipline other than the literal content created by a practitioner. For example, formalists within mathematics claim that mathematics is no more than the symbols written down by the mathematician, which is based on logic and a few elementary rules alone. This is as opposed to non-formalists, within that field, who hold that there are some things inherently true, and are not, necessarily, dependent on the symbols within mathematics so much as a greater truth. Formalists within a discipline are completely concerned with "the rules of the game," as there is no other external truth that can be achieved beyond those given rules. In this sense, formalism lends itself well to disciplines based upon axiomatic systems.
The Critique of Pure Reason is a book by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, in which the author seeks to determine the limits and scope of metaphysics. Also referred to as Kant's "First Critique", it was followed by the Critique of Practical Reason (1788) and the Critique of Judgment (1790). In the preface to the first edition, Kant explains that by a "critique of pure reason" he means a critique "of the faculty of reason in general, in respect of all knowledge after which it may strive independently of all experience" and that he aims to reach a decision about "the possibility or impossibility of metaphysics".
Russian formalism was a school of literary criticism in Russia from the 1910s to the 1930s. It includes the work of a number of highly influential Russian and Soviet scholars such as Viktor Shklovsky, Yuri Tynianov, Vladimir Propp, Boris Eichenbaum, Roman Jakobson, Boris Tomashevsky, Grigory Gukovsky who revolutionised literary criticism between 1914 and the 1930s by establishing the specificity and autonomy of poetic language and literature. Russian formalism exerted a major influence on thinkers like Mikhail Bakhtin and Yuri Lotman, and on structuralism as a whole. The movement's members had a relevant influence on modern literary criticism, as it developed in the structuralist and post-structuralist periods. Under Stalin it became a pejorative term for elitist art.
Critique is a method of disciplined, systematic study of a written or oral discourse. Although critique is commonly understood as fault finding and negative judgment, it can also involve merit recognition, and in the philosophical tradition it also means a methodical practice of doubt. The contemporary sense of critique has been largely influenced by the Enlightenment critique of prejudice and authority, which championed the emancipation and autonomy from religious and political authorities.
The Critique of Judgment, also translated as the Critique of the Power of Judgment, is a 1790 book by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. Sometimes referred to as the "third critique," the Critique of Judgment follows the Critique of Pure Reason (1781) and the Critique of Practical Reason (1788).
Absolute music is music that is not explicitly "about" anything; in contrast to program music, it is non-representational. The idea of absolute music developed at the end of the 18th century in the writings of authors of early German Romanticism, such as Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder, Ludwig Tieck and E. T. A. Hoffmann but the term was not coined until 1846 where it was first used by Richard Wagner in a programme to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
Aesthetics of music is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of art, beauty and taste in music, and with the creation or appreciation of beauty in music. In the pre-modern tradition, the aesthetics of music or musical aesthetics explored the mathematical and cosmological dimensions of rhythmic and harmonic organization. In the eighteenth century, focus shifted to the experience of hearing music, and thus to questions about its beauty and human enjoyment of music. The origin of this philosophic shift is sometimes attributed to Baumgarten in the 18th century, followed by Kant. Through their writing, the ancient term aesthetics, meaning sensory perception, received its present-day connotation. In recent decades philosophers have tended to emphasize issues besides beauty and enjoyment. For example, music's capacity to express emotion has been a central issue.
Formalism is a school of literary criticism and literary theory having mainly to do with structural purposes of a particular text. It is the study of a text without taking into account any outside influence. Formalism rejects or sometimes simply "brackets" notions of culture or societal influence, authorship, and content, and instead focuses on modes, genres, discourse, and forms.
Ethical formalism is a type of ethical theory which defines moral judgments in terms of their logical form rather than their content. The term also often carries critical connotations. Kant, for example, has been criticized for defining morality in terms of the formal feature of being a "universal law", and then attempting to derive from this formal feature various concrete moral duties.
A coordinative definition is a postulate which assigns a partial meaning to the theoretical terms of a scientific theory by correlating the mathematical objects of the pure or formal/syntactical aspects of a theory with physical objects in the world. The idea was formulated by the logical positivists and arises out of a formalist vision of mathematics as pure symbol manipulation.
Formalism may refer to:
Aesthetic emotions are emotions that are felt during aesthetic activity or appreciation. These emotions may be of the everyday variety or may be specific to aesthetic contexts. Examples of the latter include the sublime, the beautiful, and the kitsch. In each of these respects, the emotion usually constitutes only a part of the overall aesthetic experience, but may play a more or less definitive function for that state.
In the philosophy of mathematics, formalism is the view that holds that statements of mathematics and logic can be considered to be statements about the consequences of the manipulation of strings using established manipulation rules. A central idea of formalism "is that mathematics is not a body of propositions representing an abstract sector of reality, but is much more akin to a game, bringing with it no more commitment to an ontology of objects or properties than ludo or chess." According to formalism, the truths expressed in logic and mathematics are not about numbers, sets, or triangles or any other contensive subject matter — in fact, they aren't "about" anything at all. Rather, mathematical statements are syntactic forms whose shapes and locations have no meaning unless they are given an interpretation. In contrast to logicism or intuitionism, formalism's contours are less defined due to broad approaches that can be categorized as formalist.
At the broadest level, a theory of art aims to shed light on some aspect of the project of defining art or to theorize about the structure of our concept of ‘art’ without providing classical definitions, namely traditional functions. If the work of "art" has a materialistic intent it is a "tool" whether a tool intellectually, physically, spiritually or mentally.... And thus not "Genuine True Art" which has no purpose but to be itself"..
Béatrice Longuenesse is a Silver Professor of Philosophy at New York University. Her work focuses on Immanuel Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and the philosophy of mind. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Longuenesse is one of the most prominent living Kant scholars, and her works have generated significant discussion around parts of Kant's corpus that were previously largely overlooked.