Reading and Use of English
7: Multiple Matching
are going to read an extract from an article about modern art and whether
it can be called 'art'. For questions 1-10, choose from the people
(A, B, C or D). The people may be chosen more
Art is the result of an artist using her or his skill or creative
imagination for a creative purpose, to give pleasure to the viewer through
it's aesthetic qualities, or to get a reaction from the audience to
a wider more significant issue outside the work of art itself. That
work of art might be a painting, a sculpture, an installation of some
kind or an example from the performing arts like dance or mime. I think
we sometimes get bogged down by the notion of 'skill'. For many in the
anti modern art camp, there needs to be evidence of the artist's craft
on show before the work is taken seriously and can merit the term 'art',
be it intricate drawing skills, expert use of form or an artist's eye
for colour. I'm not suggesting that an artist need not have these credentials
but hand in hand with craft is, as I said earlier, creative imagination,
the ability to see the value or beauty of something unremarkable which
would often go unnoticed by the untrained eye. Much of modern art I
think possesses this second quality which is why I often leave an exhibition
of modern art feeling that I've had the chance to reflect on something
that I wouldn't normally have given the time of day to. The art has
engaged me, has had an impact, made me think about something in a way
that I wouldn't have thought about before.
I would certainly call myself an art enthusiast and have been for many
years and in my opinion the modern art world is full of second-rate junk
which most of us, if we were being totally honest, would agree a 4-year-old
child could do. The idea that a slept-in bed such as that 'produced' by
Tracy Emin or many of the pieces by Damien Hirst and his ilk are works
of art is hard to justify as is the huge price tag that accompanies their
work. I find it particulalry galling when extremely talented people out
there who have spent years honing their skills and learning the craft
of drawing or painting are completely ignored. What's more, one of the
dangers of this kind of 'art' is that it serves to alienate the mass of
the population from the visual arts. The man in the street viewing one
of these pieces is left thinking the world of modern art has no value;
worse still, that he lacks the intellectual ability to understand the
meaning of the piece when in fact there is little to interpret. Thankfully,
one or two great artists make it through, but I'm afraid many are lost
amongst the deluge of dross the art-world deems 'art'. For me, the first
measure of the worth of an artist must be the degree of skill exhibited
in the work or at the very least a pedigree of fine art preceeding any
more abstract pieces produced by the artist such as was the case with
The idea that modern art is some kind of mass deception and that all
modern artists are talentless fraudsters just doesn't hold water. And
I'm not talking here about the painters who for centuries have make a
living out of copying works of art and selling them on as originals. I'm
talking about abstract art and the idea that the great art collectors
such as the Saatchis or Rockerfellas and the great museums of art around
the world, would somehow allow themselves to be duped into paying a fortune
for an abstract painting or scupture. Are these artists really tricking
these people into paying huge sums of money for something worthless? Of
course not. Though some of these works may not appear to the layman as
having any artisitc merit, neither did the great impressionsists or the
more abstract works of Picasso or Rothko when they were first exhibited.
In the same way that great poetry can speak to us in a way that prose
never can, abstract art can engage with the audience in more subtle and
effective ways than is the case with art of a more realistic nature. So,
they may get their fingers burnt now and again but I don't think the Saatchis
will be cursing the day they spent huge sums on works of abstract art.
Quite the opposite in fact and in the process of making a canny investment
they have helped further raise the profile of some of our great modern
Here we go again: the media are once more up in arms about the latest
'is it art' shock-horror editorials following the latest Turner Prize
shortlisting. When will they learn? For decades art in many forms has
moved away from realism and towards abstraction. Ever since the invention
and popularisation of photography, art has had to reinvent itself. Patrons
who wanted a perfect representation of themselves no longer needed to
turn to the artist. Artists started to struggle with the challenge of
catching the essence of the thing depicted rather than simply its external
appearance. Abstract artists try to convey a pure idea, not the exact
relica of the subject concerned. It's true that some works of art are
so obscure that you may need to read up on the theory behind the creation,
which is usually helpfully supplied in art galleries. But this isn't always
necessary. Take Guernica by Picasso. To get a full understanding of this
painting it could be argued the audience needs to appreciate the historical
context, the bombing of the Basque city during the Spanish Civil War.
It would also probably help to have a good understanding of the techniques
of abstraction that Picasso had used to create the effect. However, I
think most people viewing this masterpiece would be struck by the horror
it depicts even without this background knowledge. And I would argue it
is the effect of this abstraction that adds to the impact on us compared
to a realistic portrayal of such a scene.
Which person gives each of these opinions about modern art?
1 Some practices
have been going on for hundreds of years.
2 Some people
may not have the knowledge to understand a work of art fully.
aesthetic qualities can be invisible until brought to our attention by
is an example of an artist who proved his craftsmanship.
of the work itself is not always the artist's aim.
6 The purpose
of Art has undergone change.
always appreciate the works of great artists initially.
at is generally overpriced.
art isn't always a good investment.
10 We can
be touched by a work of art without knowing the context.