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Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


An aesthetic tendency characterized by the separation of form and content in works of A rt and literature in which the predominant significance is given to formal aspects. Although, as a tendency, formalism was always a part of world art and literature, its emergence as a definite trend is usually dated to the end of the nineteenth century, when formalism receives its theoretical foundation in the musicology of E. Hanslick and the art criticism of Heinrich Wölfflin. It achieves its classic form and acquires its name in the “Formal school” of Russian literary criticism during the 1920s. Hanslick maintained that music has no content apart from its medium. The focus of Wölfflin's investigation was the detection of the visual laws of organization of artistic form. He based his formalist typological method on the notion of the development of the art of painting as an evolution of visual forms. The next step in the early development of formalism was taken by Oskar Walzel in his comparative studies of works of painting, music, and literature. Walzel based his approach on studies of the inner laws of art works. The ideas of early formalism found their practical implementation in the works of European Symbolists, based on the principles of A lienation of A rt from reality (“Art is Free, Life is Paralyzed” proclaimed members of the Russian World of Art movement) and of art for art's sake. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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