“In art theory, formalism is the concept that a work’s artistic value is entirely determined by its form–the way it is made, its purely visual aspects, and its medium. Formalism emphasizes compositional elements such as color, line, shape and texture rather than realism, context, and content. In visual art, formalism is the concept that everything necessary in a work of art is contained within it. The context for the work, including the reason for its creation, the historical background, and the life of the artist, is considered to be of secondary importance. Formalism dominated modern art from the late 1800s through the 1960s.”
“Mr. Puryear is a formalist in a time when that is something of a dirty word,” Roberta Smith writes.