International Journal of Art & Design Education

Form, Truth and Emotion: Transatlantic Influences on Formalist Aesthetics

Volume 7.1   1988



Formalism is the aesthetic theory that recommends that the value of a work of art be sought in the lines, shapes, and colours of the work and their interrelationships. The paper develops the argument that in 1988 proposals for including art criticism, art history, and aesthetics in the curriculum took a formalist stance in their initial approach to works of art. Stankiewicz proposes that even when an art programme addresses the relationship of art to society, or the role of art in various cultures, students are usually expected to learn about the elements of art. The paper further proposes that the exchange of formalist theories and practices between British and American art educators has cross-fertilised the field far beyond the well-known examples of formalist art teaching. The aesthetic theories of Roger Fry and Denham Ross are discussed in detail and are considered relevant to contemporary art educators because they have affected both the content of the art and design curriculum, and how that content is taught.