“Formalism: A central tenet of modernist art criticism that emphasized the importance of line, color, and space (significant form). Representational content was considered irrelevant in the eyes of formalist critics. Since formalism provided ‘objective’ methods for looking at all art whether Western or not, ancient or contemporary, it was thought of as egalitarian. But the advent of Pop Art necessitated a different analysis that went beyond the work itself and examined influences from popular culture. Postmodern approaches to art-making and criticism investigate both form and content, as well as the context of art and its role in society.”
Excerpted from: Diamond, David G. The Bulfinch Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms. Boston: Little Brown, 1992.