Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Formalism is a typically 20th Century development. It reacts against the idea of art as representation, as expression, or as a vehicle of truth or knowledge or moral betterment or social improvement. Formalists don’t deny that art is capable of doing these things, but they believe that the true purpose of art is subverted by its being made to do these things. "Art for art's sake, not art for life's sake" is the watchword of formalism. Art is there to be enjoyed for the perception and by means of its intricate and complex form. Formalism's right hand is aestheticism, which defends that the main function of art is to produce and elicit pleasure. It informs and instruct, represent and express, but first and foremost it must please.