English: Reading Comprehension Set 9

Reading Comprehension RC for IBPS RRB PO Clerk, IBPS Clerk, SBI Clerk, NICL Assistance, NIACL Assistant and other competitive exams.

Read the passage given below and solve the questions based on the passage.

The painter is now free to paint anything he chooses. There are scarcely any forbidden subjects, and today everybody is prepared to admit that a painting of some fruit can be as important as a painting of a hero dying. The Impressionists did as much as anybody to win this previously unheard-of freedom for the artist. Yet, by the next generation, painters began to abandon the subject altogether, and began to paint abstract pictures. Today the majority of pictures painted are abstract.

Is there a connection between these two developments? Has art gone abstract because the artist is embarrassed by his freedom? Is it that, because he is free to paint anything, he doesn’t know what to paint? Apologists for abstract art often talk of it as the art of maximum freedom. But could this be the freedom of the desert island? It would take too long to answer these questions properly. I believe there is a connection. Many things have encouraged the development of abstract art. Among them has been the artists’ wish to avoid the difficulties of finding subjects when all subjects are equally possible.

I raise the matter now because I want to draw attention to the fact that the painter’s choice of a subject is a far more complicated question than it would at first seem. A subject does not start with what is put in front of the easel or with something which the painter happens to remember. A subject starts with the painter deciding he would like to paint such-and-such because for some reason or other he finds it meaningful. A subject begins when the artist selects something for special mention. (What makes it special or meaningful may seem to the artist to be purely visual – its colours or its form.) When the subject has been selected, the function of the painting itself is to communicate and justify the significance of that selection.

It is often said today that subject matter is unimportant. But this is only a reaction against the excessively literary and moralistic interpretation of subject matter in the nineteenth century. In truth, the subject is literary the beginning and end of a painting. The painting begins with a selection (I will paint this and not everything else in the world); it is finished when that selection is justified (now you can see all that I saw and felt in this and how it is more than merely itself).

Thus, for a painting to succeed it is essential that the painter and his public agree about what is significant. The subject may have a personal meaning for the painter or individual spectator; but there must also be the possibility of their agreement on its general meaning. It is at this point that the culture of the society and period in question precedes the artist and his art. Renaissance art would have meant nothing to the Aztecs –and vice versa. If, to some extent, a few intellectuals can appreciate them both today it is because their culture is an historical one; its inspiration is history and therefore it can include within itself, in principle if not in every particular, all known developments to date.

When a culture is secure and certain of its values, it presents  its artists with subjects. The general agreement about what is significant is so well established that the significance of a particular subject accrues and becomes traditional. This is true, for instance, of reeds and water in China, of the nude body in Renaissance, of the animal in Africa. Furthermore, in such cultures the artist is unlikely to be a free agent: he will be employed for the sake of particulars subjects, and the problem, as we have just described it, will not occur to him.

When a culture is in a state of disintegration or transition the freedom of the artist increases – but the question of subject matter becomes problematic for him: he, himself, has to choose for society. This was at the basis of all the increasing, crises in European art during the nineteenth century. It is too often forgotten how many of the art scandals of that time were provoked by the choice of subject (Gericault, Courbet, Daumier, Degas, Lautrec, Van Gogh, etc.).

By the end of the nineteenth century there were, roughly speaking, two ways in which the painter could meet this challenge of deciding what to paint and so choosing for society. Either he identified himself with the people and so allowed their lives to dictate his subjects to him; or he had to find his subjects within himself as painter. By people I mean everybody except the bourgeoisie. Many painters did of course work of the bourgeoisie according to their copy-book of approved subjects, but all of them, filling the Salon and the Royal Academy year after year, are now forgotten, buried under the hypocrisy of those they served so sincerely.

  1. In the sentence, “I believe there is a connection” (second paragraph), what two developments is the author referring to?
    A) Painters using a dying hero and using a fruit as a subject of painting.
    B) Growing success of painters and an increase in abstract forms.
    C) Artists gaining freedom to choose subjects and abandoning subjects altogether.
    D) Rise of impressionists and an increase in abstract forms.
    E) None of these.
    View Answer
    Option C
    Explanation:

    The answer to this question can be easily inferred from paragraph 1 and 2. Option C is the right answer. Refer to the lines: Yet, by the next generation, painters began to abandon the subject altogether, and began to paint abstract pictures. Today the majority of pictures painted are abstract.….Is there a connection between these two developments?
  2. Which of the following views is taken by the author?
    A) The more insecure a culture, the greater the freedom of the artist.
    B) The more secure a culture, the greater the freedom of the artist.
    C) The more secure a culture, more difficult the choice of subject.
    D) The more insecure a culture, the less significant the choice of the subject.
    E) None of these.
    View Answer
    Option A
    Explanation:

    The answer can be inferred from the 7th paragraph, 1 st line “when a culture is in a state of disintegration or transition the freedom of artist increases.”
  3. According to the author, which of the following has encouraged the development of abstract art ?
    A) The prevalent style in the society of his time.
    B) The impressionists.
    C) What is put in front of the easel.
    D) Wish of the artists to avoid finding subjects as they can chose any of them without worry.
    E) None of these.
    View Answer
    Option D
    Explanation:

    The answer can be inferred from the last line of second para.
  4. Why is the author raising the issue of selection of subject matter by painters ?
    A) He wants so prove that the subject starts with what is put in front of the easel.
    B) He wants to prove that abstract painters are not free to chose the subject matter.
    C) He wants to convey that the selection of subject by painter is not simple process.
    D) He wants to know the reason of growing success of abstract painters.
    E) He wants to know the inherent meaning of paintings.
    View Answer
    Option C
    Explanation:

    The answer can be inferred from first line of 3rd para.
  5. Which of the following is NOT necessarily among the attributes needed for a painter to succeed?
    A) The painter and his public agree on what is significant.
    B) The painting is able to communicate and justify the significance of its subject selection.
    C) The subject has a personal meaning for the painter.
    D) The painting of subjects is inspired by historical developments.
    E) None of these.
    View Answer
    Option C
    Explanation:

    Refer to para 5th .
  6. What is the most suitable synonym of apologist as described in the passage?
    A) One who regrets
    B) One who forgives
    C) Supporter
    D) well – wisher
    E) None of these.
    View Answer
    Option C
    Explanation:

    Apologist – Supporter /advocate
  7. What can be the meaning of the phrase “desert island”?
    A) Desert in the island.
    B) Warm island.
    C) Distant place.
    D) Uninhabited.
    E) None of these.
    View Answer
    Option D
    Explanation:

    Desert island means an island that is uninhabited.
  8. What is an abstract painting?
    A) A painting representing people .
    B) Abstract Painting is a visual language of shape, form, color and lines.
    C) Painting that has no physical structure.
    D) Without any reality.
    E) None of these.
    View Answer
    Option B
    Explanation:

    Abstract painting is relating to or denoting art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but rather seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, colours, and textures
  9. What can be the possible meaning of bourgeoisie ?
    A) The society as a whole.
    B) The marginal strata in the social hierarchy.
    C) The upper class.
    D) The Middle class of the society.
    E) None of these.
    View Answer
    Option D
    Explanation:

    bourgeois means relating to or typical of the middle class
  10. The most opposite word of hypocrisy is?
    A) Honesty
    B) Double mindedness
    C) Ridiculousness
    D) Sincere
    E) None of these.
    View Answer
    Option A
    Explanation:

    hypocrisy – duplicity / double dealing

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