CAE Reading and Use of English Part 6
You are going to read four extracts from articles in which art historians are talking about the value of works of art over time. For questions 37-40, choose from the reviews A-D. The extracts may be chosen more than once.
Worth its weight in gold?
Four art historians consider the value of works of art over time.
A Audrey Anson
It can be particularly challenging to identify the kind of art that will maintain its reputation and value over decades and centuries. Historically many collectors of fine art were entirely self-centred in their approach, purchasing particular works simply to impress others with evidence of their wealth and taste, but with hardly a thought as to what might endure to impress subsequent generations. Such collectors tended to be conservative by nature, often assuming that trends and fashions in art were passing phases and that traditional quality would stand the test of time. Judging the long-term value of contemporary art cannot be an exact science, however, and it is easy to see in retrospect who had a good eye for the art of the future and who had not. Much harder is the business of predicting which of today’s artists will be appreciated in years to come, as many disillusioned art collectors have learnt to their cost. What is not in doubt, however, is that some will end up being counted amongst the all-time greats.
В Justin Bellamy
It’s the need to distinguish the truly worthwhile from the merely fashionable that drives those aiming to establish meaningful art collections today. Their aim is to seek out those contemporary works of art which might be expected not only to retain their value, but also in the fullness of time quite right come to be regarded as definitive examples of a trend or period. Some historians argue that every age is defined by the art it inspires, be it sculpture, painting or whatever. But this is a gross simplification. Until relatively recent times, very few of those commissioning or purchasing such works as new did so with a view to the future. They were more interested in the prestige that owning such works brought them. What’s more, a famous picture may come to be more memorable than the event it depicts, distorting our true understanding of the event itself.
C Anita Crouch
Critics and commentators find it hard enough to agree on what represents the finest in the artistic output of their own times, let alone predict the tastes of the future. In their relentless search to identify the cutting edge, they risk heaping praise on work that is merely of transitory interest, and sadly this risk was never greater than in our present age, when mediocrity seems to be the norm. But it wasn’t always so. In the past, there was much wider consensus regarding what represented notable artistic achievement in whatever style prevailed in a given period. The purchase and exhibition of such works represented a status symbol for those in positions of power and influence, and although over time collections accumulated, it was largely short-term goals that triggered the process. In the end, history judges whether such collections have long-term artistic value or not.
D Dario D’Amico
When people consider what we can pass on to future generations, they come up with various answers ranging from ideas to technology to works of art. And it is the latter that some people feel truly reflect the mood and atmosphere of their time. This will be just as true of our own age, however eccentric the contemporary art scene might appear on the surface. Down through the centuries, people have bought and passed on to future generations, those works of art that seemed to embody the spirit of their age and would have lasting value. More often than not, this turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy because for periods predating the advent of mass communications and photography, the art helps form a view of both what life was like and how people thought at the time. Some people go further, claiming that art continues to resonate long after detailed memories of momentous events have been lost.
Which art historian
37 doesn’t have the same opinion as Anson about why people in the past collected works of art?
38 shares Crouch’s view regarding how successfully the best contemporary works of art can be identified?
39 holds a different view to Bellamy regarding the value of art in the study of history?
40 has a different opinion from the others regarding the lasting value of current trends in art?
CAE Reading and Use of English Part 7
You are going to read a newspaper article about a very young artist. Six paragraphs have been removed from the article. Choose from the paragraphs A-G the one which fits each gap (41-46). There is one extra paragraph which you do not need to use.
Is Kieron Britain’s most exciting artist?
Peter Stanford watches an amazing seven-year-old artist at work.
All the time we are talking, Kieron Williamson is busy sketching on the pad in front of him with quick, fluid movements of his pencil. He is copying from a book of pen and ink illustrations by Edward Seago, the twentieth-century British artist, before he adds touches of his own to the sketches.
Kieron is clearly caught up in what he is doing, his blonde head a study in concentration as he kneels in the from room of his family home. But he’s not so distracted that he doesn’t sometimes look me in the eye and put me right. ‘You’ve added a bit more detail here,’ I say, as he is reproducing Seago’s sketch of an old man in an overcoat. ‘Seago’s’, I explain, ‘is lighter.’ ‘Not lighter,’ Kieron corrects me. ‘You call it looser. Loose and tight. They’re the words.’ Seven-year-olds don’t often give adults lessons in the terminology of fine art.
Kieron actually can and does, and has been hailed as a ‘mini-Monet’, on account of his neo-impressionist style, or the next Picasso. Recently, buyers from as far afield as South Africa and America queued up outside his modest local art gallery – some of them camping out all night — to snap up 33 paintings in just 27 minutes, leaving Kieron $150,000 better off. How did it feel? ‘Very nice,’ he replies politely. ‘Did you talk to any of the buyers?’ ‘Yes, they kept asking me what else I do.’ And what did you tell them? ‘That I go to school, that I play football for my school and that I am the best defender in the team .’
His exhibition, the second to sell out so quickly — has brought him a lot of attention. Several American TV networks have filmed him in the family flat already and today a camera crew is squeezed into the front room with me, Kieron’s mum, Michelle, his younger sister, Billie-Jo and two sleeping cats
“These are ones I did last night when I was watching the television with Billie-Jo,” he says, handing me a sketchbook. It falls open on a vibrant fairground scene. Kieron finds the page in the Seago book that inspired him. There is the same carousel, but he has added figures, buildings and trees in his drawing in the sketchbook.
As accomplished as Kieron’s paintings are, part of their appeal is undoubtedly the story of precocious talent that goes with them. If he’s doing similar work when he’s 28, it may prompt a different reaction.
But Kieron is having none of it. He looks up sharply from his sketching. “If I want to paint,” he says, “I’ll paint.”
A An example is his pastel Figures at Holkham, an accomplished composition with big blues skies, a line of sand dunes framing to either side and two figures, one with a splash of red in the centre to draw the eye in. There is such an adult quality to his work that you can’t help wondering if someone older has been helping him.
В Standard seven-year-old boy stuff there. Kieron, however, is being hailed as a child prodigy. ‘They only come along once in a generation,’ artist Carol Pennington tells me later, as she explains how she helped nurture this early-blooming talent, ‘and Kieron is that one.’
C Michelle Williamson is aware of this. ‘I fully expect Kieron in a few years’ time to focus on something else as closely as he is focusing on art right now,’ she says. ‘Football or motor racing. There may well be a lot more ahead for him than art.’
D Yet, in the centre of the melee, Kieron seems utterly oblivious and just gets on with what he does every day, often rising at 6 a.m. to get on to paper a picture that is bursting to get out of his head. He will be painting every day of the school holidays, relishing the freedom denied him during term time.
E Each one takes him only a few minutes – horses, figures huddling in a tent, men and women in unusual costumes. ‘I’m going to do this one, then this one, then this one,’ he tells me, ‘but not this one – the eves aren’t looking at anyone – or this one – it’s too messy.’
F This, it is clear, is no mechanical exercise in reproduction. To underline the point, Kieron takes it back off me and adds a smudge of dark under one of the groups of people.
G But then Kieron Williamson is not your average boy. Aside from his precocious articulacy, he is singlehandedly illustrating that familiar remark, made by many a parent when confronted with a prize-winning work of modern art, that ‘my seven-year-old could do better than that’