‘Form’ can describe the physical nature or overall shape of a work, or the element of shape among the components within a work of art.
Modern art introduced the concept that form could convey expression even when detached from realistic representations. Until the advent of modern art, where colour became a prominent force, form held the central role in painting, primarily grounded in the human body. In the realm of art, the artist strives to reshape natural appearances to create an expressive, meaning-conveying new form.
In 1914, critic Clive Bell coined the term "significant form" to describe this idea, contributing significantly to the evolution of abstract art. In that same year, British abstract painter David Bomberg expressed, "I appeal to a sense of form – where I use naturalistic form, I have stripped it of all irrelevant matter... My aim is the creation of Pure Form." Even space itself can possess form; as sculptor Henry Moore once noted, "A hole can have as much shape meaning as a solid mass."