Formalism is the analysis and comparison of art by focusing on the way it’s made and what it looks like.
In art history, formalism is the study of art that involves analysing and comparing its form and style. This approach focuses on the way objects are made and their purely visual or material aspects. In painting, formalism places importance on compositional elements like colour, line, shape, texture, and other perceptual aspects rather than delving into content, meaning, or the historical and social context. In its most extreme form, formalism in art history suggests that all that's needed to understand a work of art can be found within the artwork itself. The external context of the work, including why it was created, its historical background, and the artist's life, is seen as secondary to the artistic medium.