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1. Arts scrupulous or excessive adherence to outward form at the expense of inner reality or content
a. the mathematical or logical structure of a scientific argument as distinguished from its subject matter
b. the notation, and its structure, in which information is expressed
3. Theatre a stylized mode of production
4. (in Marxist criticism) excessive concern with artistic technique at the expense of social values, etc.
5. the philosophical theory that a mathematical statement has no meaning but that its symbols, regarded as physical objects, exhibit a structure that has useful applications


A style representing a new classicism in American architecture (1950–1965), manifested in buildings designed by Mies van der Rohe, Phillip Johnson, Paul Rudolph and Minuro Yamasaki.



a predominant attention to form over content in various areas of human activity. In human relations, formalism is manifested in a rigorous adherence to etiquette, ceremonies, and rituals, even when in a given situation they are meaningless, absurd, laughable, or overly dramatic. In such cases the observance of formal rules takes precedence over genuine human communication. In the areas of management and government, formalism is manifested in bureaucratism and in outwardly observing the letter of the law while completely disregarding its sense and spirit.

In the history of art, formalism has been manifested in a separation of form from content, in the assertion that form is the only valuable element in art, and accordingly, in a view that the artist’s perception of the world amounts solely to the abstract creation of form. Formalism emerged at a time when social conditions engendered among various social groups an attitude that favored the opposing of art to life, to practical activity, and to people’s true interests.

Formalist trends were apparent in 19th-century academicism, but formalism was manifested most consistently in such trends of 20th-century bourgeois art as cubism, cubo-futurism, dadaism, lettrisme, abstract art, pop art and op art, anti-theater, and the theater of the absurd. Formalism has thus proved to be one of the manifestations of the crisis in the bourgeois consciousness.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, numerous attempts were made to give formalism a theoretical foundation by the theorists of neo-Kantian aesthetics and by K. Fiedler (Germany), E. Hanslick (Austria), and R. Fry and H. Read (Great Britain). These scholars and thinkers viewed art as a superficial diversion involving only form, and as a means of creating allegedly pure aesthetic values that are free of any relation to moral, political, or practical content. Formalism has also been reflected in the methodology of art studies; an example is the formal method of literary theory and scholarship.

Marxist-Leninist aesthetics and literary and art criticism place a high value on the importance of form in art but at the same time have always waged a struggle against all manifestations of formalism, including aestheticism and the theory and practice of art for art’s sake. Marxist-Leninist aesthetics has shown that the formalist neglect of content undermines the social usefulness of art and art’s ability to participate in the social struggle and in education. Marxist-Leninist aesthetics has also emphasized that formalism has a destructive effect on the aesthetic values of art itself.


V. I. Lenin o literature i iskusstve, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1967.
Plekhanov, G. V. Iskusstvo i literatura. Moscow, 1948.
Modernizm: Sb. st. Moscow, 1973.
Kagan, M. S. Lektsii po marksistsko-leninskoi estetike, 2nd ed. Leningrad, 1971.
Medvedev, P. N. “Formalizm v zapadnoevropeiskom iskusstvovedenii.” In V laboratorii pisatelia. Leningrad, 1971.
Ohff, H. Anti-Kunst. Düsseldorf, 1973.


References in periodicals archive ?
The multi-modeling consists of using several formalisms when one wants to model complex systems whose components are heterogeneous [4].
Conceptual modeling languages that incorporate a formal modeling language are suitable to visualize formalisms, but can also be used to generate textual formalisms from the graphical models [15].
A formalism for computation theory implicitly defines each and every computational state by the totality of its computational relations (e.
So far, the conceptual and methodological discourses tend to be pluralistic, seeking to articulate a diversity of formalisms.
Within romantic studies itself, formalism had a bad odor.
0 enables engineers and designers to quickly develop graphical models of event-driven systems utilizing finite state machine concepts, statechart formalisms, and flow diagram notation.
His topics include key formalisms for representing information granules and processing mechanisms, information granules of higher type and higher order, the design of information granules, a granular description of data and pattern classification, granular time series, and collaborative and linguistic models of decision making.
However, RCA graphs as well as the existing formalisms in the literature describing agents' interaction protocols are not endowed again with a formal semantics [28].
Constraint satisfaction problems; CSP formalisms and techniques.
They cover the bond graph formalism for an energetic and dynamic approach to analyzing and synthesizing multi-physical systems, graphic formalisms for controlling multi-physical energetic systems: COD and EMR, the robustness approach to integrating energetic systems, the quality and stability of embedded power directed current networks, energy management in hybrid electrical systems, stochastic approaches to sizing energy chains and power systems, and a probabilistic approach to reliability in power systems.
He covers finite differences and transformation groups in space of discrete variables, invariance in finite-difference models, invariant difference models of ordinary differential equations and partial differential equations, combined mathematical models and some generalizations, Lagrangian formalism for difference equations, symmetries and first integrals and symmetries in Hamiltonian formalisms for difference equations, and the discrete representation of ordinary differential equations with symmetries.
Although he considers other structures, Neugebauer primarily shows how constraint programming works in the computational treatment of paradigmatic phonological representations, covering grammar formalism and subphonetic acoustic modeling, knowledge representations in constraint-based grammar formalisms, elements of state tying and the role of decision trees, and the appropriateness of constraint programming for this application, including the influence of type inheritance hierarchies such as Galois lattices.