Significant form  

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"There must be some one quality without which a work of art cannot exist; possessing which, in the least degree, no work is altogether worthless. What is this quality? What quality is shared by all objects that provoke our aesthetic emotions? What quality is common to Sta. Sophia and the windows at Chartres, Mexican sculpture, a Persian bowl, Chinese carpets, Giotto's frescoes at Padua, and the masterpieces of Poussin, Piero della Francesca, and Cezanne? Only one answer seems possible - significant form. In each, lines and colors combined in a particular way, certain forms and relations of forms, stir our aesthetic emotions."--Art (1914) by Clive Bell

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Significant form refers to an aesthetic theory developed by English art critic Clive Bell which specified a set of criteria for what qualified as a work of art. In his 1914 Book Art, Bell postulated that for an object to be deemed a work of art it required potential to provoke aesthetic emotion in its viewer, a quality he termed "significant form." Bell's definition explicitly separated significant form from beauty; in order to possess significant form, an object need not be attractive as long as it elicits an emotional response.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Significant form" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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