Content and form︎︎︎
I do not hold that the mere presence of content, of subject matter, the intention to say something, will magically guarantee the emergence of such content into successful form. Not at all! Form is not just the intention of content; it’s the embodiment of content:

  • Form is based, first, upon a supposition, a theme.  
  • Form is, second, a marshaling of materials, the inert matter in which the theme is to be cast.
  • Form is, third, a setting of boundaries, of limits, the whole extent of idea, but no more, an outer shape of idea.
  • Form is, next, the relating of inner shapes to outer limits, the initial establishing of harmonies.  
  • Form is further, the abolishing of excessive content, of content that falls outside the true limits of the theme.  
  • Form is thus a discipline, an ordering, according to the needs of content.

Form: The shape and structure of something as distinguished from its material (from dictionary) 


  • Whatever crosses the mind may be fit content for art, in the right hands.
  • Content may be and often is trivial. But I do not think that any person may pronounce either upon the weight or triviality of an idea before its execution into a work of art. It’s only after its execution that we may note that it was fruitful or greatness or variety of interest.

︎︎︎from The Shape of Content by Ben Shahn