C2 Proficiency (CPE) Practice Test

CPE Reading and Use of English Part 7: Multiple Matching

You 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 than once.

Is it Art?

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 its aesthetic qualities, or to get a reaction from the audience to a wider more significant issue outside of 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 particularly 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 Picasso.

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 made 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 Rockefellas 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 sculpture. 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 artistic merit, neither did the great impressionists 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 artists.

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 replica 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?