In an essay in the December 2010 Writer's Chronicle ("Poetry and Memorability"), Mark Irwin assures us that
Certainly, then, originality is part of the memorable. A work of art should be new, fresh, but not merely for the sake of the newness, where much art loses its magic. The original must rise naturally out of its subject and the artist's vision.
Proponents of "content" over form in art say stuff like this all the time. It's a way of paying lip service to formal ingenuity, "newness," while at the same time implicitly declaring it nonexistent, at least in real art. It's the subject, stupid, the way the artist's "vision" catches up to "fresh" subject matter, that is new. Any poem or wok of art that fails to carry out the dictate that "the original must rise naturally out of its subject" can be safely dismissed as not really art at all, as something that is merely new, hollow at the core.
Irwin cites as something truly new Duchamp's painting Nude Descending the Stairs, which he allows is original because it introduces the notion that "the beauty of the machine becomes that of the body, something earlier resisted in the Industrial Revolution." But surely the scandal this work created when it first appeared had much less to do with its suggestion there might be beauty in machines but was instead focused on its aesthetic challenge. No one had seen anything like it before. It seemed to be subverting received notions of aesthetic beauty, and if we now recognize the painting has its own kind of beauty, that's because the "newness" of this work helped us to perceive aesthetic beauty differently, more amply. You can say that Duchamp's unique vision was able to make a connection between "the beauty of the machine" and the human body, and that this was a "new" way of regarding machines, but its expression in the work of art, the aesthetic qualities of the work, is what makes the painting new. I would argue that the vision of beauty the painting has ultimately encouraged arises from its formal orginality, not the other way around.
Ultimately, those like Irwin who contend that form is just a phenomenon of subject are reinforcing the view that works of art and literature are acts of "saying something." Aesthetic form is simply the consequence of the inconvenient fact that these are indirect ways of "saying," and too much "newness" of form, or an overemphasis on form, only obscures the clarity of what is said. Oddly, such people do seem to think that what is said might be "new." But those works of art, especially works of literature, determined to say something usually just belabor the obvious or offer up platitudes ("marriage is difficult"; "consumerism is bad"). Art is worth our attention when it takes a "subject" and makes it aesthetically compelling. At that point the subject becomes irrelevant.