Friday, 2 December 2011

Objective Proficiency p 63. Art and Sight. Extra Speaking

1. MONOLOGUE. Prepare a talk of AT LEAST 5 minutes on the subject. You may use the pictures above and the contents below if you wish:

"Abstract art has come into being as a necessary expression of the feelings and thoughts of our age; it has added new dimensions to creative painting."

Leonard Brooks (7 November 1911 – 20 November 2011) was a Canadian artist. 

Do you think that abstract art is ubiquitous in our society? Does abstract art outdo figurative or representational art? Do you believe that art should serve some moral or didactic purpose? Don't you see eye to eye with those who advocate art for art's sake?

You may make some notes for your talk to take into the exam. These should not exceed five lines.


In this part of the test, the examiner will ask you some questions about issues related to the TOPIC. Remember that you are expected to have a conversation as natural as possible and give full answers. This part of the examination will last AT LEAST 5 minutes. You will not see the questions below.



1.  Which would you say is by far the most remarkable picture of all time?

2.  Can you think of an exhibition that has taken the country by storm? Can you describe it?

3. When was the last time you saw something you would describe as a sight for sore eyes? Tell us about it.

4. Can you think of an artist for whom the sky is the limit? Why?

5. Do you know any cack-handed person? Can you remember any botched job this person has done? Or a job that went out of hand?

6. Do you agree with the saying beauty is in the eye of the beholder?

7. What possible consequences can you think of if architects pay more attention to aesthetics than functionality

8. Are you particularly fond of cutting-edge art?  Why?

9. Do you agree with the proverb "art is long, life is short"? Can you give examples?

10. When was the last time that something you had planned didn't work out and you had to go back to the drawing board?



Monologue: pictures
Creating art
make a work of art/a drawing/a sketch/a sculpture/a statue/ engravings/ etchings (Sp. grabados)/ prints

sketch a simple picture that is drawn quickly and does not have many details. E.g. The artist is making sketches for his next painting.
sketch a preliminary drawing/ a figure/ a shape 

do an oil painting/ a self-portrait/ a line drawing/ a rough sketch.

create a work of art/an artwork/paintings and sculptures.

produce paintings/portraits/oil sketches/ his most celebrated work/ a series of prints 

paint a picture/landscape/still life/ portrait/mural/in oils/in watercolours/ on canvas.

still life:  

the art of painting or drawing arrangements of objects such as flowers, fruit, etc; a painting, etc. like this. Sp. bodegón. E.g. She prefers still life to landscape painting.a still life in oils

draw a picture/a portrait/a cartoon/a sketch/a line/a figure/ the human form/ in charcoal/ in ink.


 to make objects, patterns, etc. by cutting away material from wood or stone. Sp. tallar, esculpir. E.g. carve a figure/ an image/ a sculpture/ an altarpiece (Sp. retablo)/ reliefs/ a block of wood. A traditional craftsman is carving wood with floral motifs


 a way of decorating wood, stone, etc. by cutting designs into the surface of it so that some parts stick out more than others; a design that is made in this way. The design stands out from the surface, to a greater ( high relief) or lesser ( low relief) extent. Sp. altorrelieve, bajorrelieve. E.g. The column was decorated in high relief (= with designs that stick out a lot) with scenes from Greek mythology. The bronze doors are covered with sculpted reliefs. 


/skʌlpt / to make figures or objects by carving. E.g. sculpt a portrait bust/ a statue/ an abstract figure. The figures were sculpted from single blocks of marble.


 to cut lines into a piece of glass, metal, etc. in order to make words or a picture. Sp. grabar. E.g. etch a line/ a pattern/ a design/ a name into the glass.

mix colours/ pigments/ paints.

add/apply thin/ thick layers of paint/ colour/ pigment.

use oil pastels/ charcoal/ acrylic paint/ a can of spray paint.

work in bronze/ceramics/stone/oils/ pastels (/ˈpæstlz/)/ watercolour/ a wide variety of media  

Showing and selling art
the arts: 

 [plural] art, music, theatre, literature, etc. when you think of them as a group. E.g. lottery funding for the arts.


 seeming or wanting to be very artistic or interested in the arts. E.g. She hangs out with the arty types she met at drama school. Why do you pretend you like those boring, arty films?


/kəˈmɪʃn/ to officially ask somebody to write, make or create something or to do a task for you. Sp. encargar. E.g. commission an altarpiece/ a bronze bust of somebody/ a portrait/ a religious work/ an artist to paint something. 

frame a painting/ portrait. The photograph had been framed. A framed photograph. 

hang art/a picture/a painting. We hung her portrait above the fireplace. Several of his paintings hang in the Tate Gallery. Hang something with something to decorate a place by placing paintings, etc. on a wall. E.g. The rooms were hung with tapestries.   

display/exhibit modern art/ somebody's work/ a collection/ original artwork/ drawings/ sculptures/ a piece.

showcase (exhibit; display. E.g. the albums showcase his production skills) 

be displayed/ hung in a gallery/ museum.

install/ place a sculpture in/at/on something  

installation /ˌɪnstəˈleɪʃn/ an art exhibit constructed within a gallery. E.g. a video installation.

erect/unveil a bronze/marble/life-size statue 

hold/host/mount (organize)/open/curate /see (especially British English) an exhibition/(North American English usually) exhibit.  

curate /kjʊəˈreɪt/ something  

to select, organize and look after the objects or works of art in a museum or art gallery, etc. E.g. He curated the acclaimed ‘Africa’ exhibition at the museum last year.  


/kjʊəˈreɪtə(r)/ a person whose job is to be in charge of the objects or works of art in a museum or art gallery, etc. Sp. conservador, comisario. E.g. the curator of drawings at the National Gallery. 

be/go on (British English) exhibition/(North American English) exhibit. The photographs will be on exhibition until the end of the monthThe paintings go on exhibition in October.

feature/ promote/ showcase a conceptual artist/ contemporary works. 

pride of place 

 the position in which something is most easily seen, that is given to the most important thing in a particular group. E.g. The photo was given pride of place on the mantelpiece. 


/ˌretrəˈspektɪv/ (of an exhibition or compilation) showing the development of an artist’s work over a period of time. E.g. a retrospective collection of albums spanning the course of his entire career. 


/ˈɔːkʃn/ E.g. an auction of paintings. The house is up for auction (= will be sold at an auction ). A classic Rolls-Royce fetched (= was sold for) £25000 at auction.


 /ˈiːzl/ a wooden frame to hold a picture while it is being painted. E.g. a painting on an easel. Artists set up easels and paint for the crowds. The artist's easel.

collect African art/ modern British paintings/ Japanese prints

collector's item 

 a thing that is valued because it is very old or rare, or because it has some special interest. Sp. Pieza de coleccionista. E.g. It's doubtful they'd know that it was a collector's item.  

have an eye for something: 

to be able to judge if things look attractive, valuable, etc. E.g. I've never had much of an eye for fashion. She has an eye for a bargain. 

a keen eye

keen: (senses) highly developed. Sharp. E.g. Dogs have a keen sense of smell. My friend has a keen eye for (= is good at noticing) a bargain.   


/ˈpraɪsləs/ extremely valuable or important. E.g. a priceless collection of antiques.
A number of priceless works of art were stolen from the gallery. 

valuable worth a lot of money: The thieves took three pieces of valuable jewellery.  

precious rare and worth a lot of money; loved or valued very much. E:g. a precious Chinese vase, valued at half a million pounds.  

irreplaceable too valuable or special to be replaced. E.g. irreplaceable possessions. 

fine art: also fine arts [plural] 

 forms of art, especially painting, drawing and sculpture, that are created to be beautiful rather than useful. Sp. Artes visuales. E.g. The sale will be of interest to collectors of fine art.
Describing art
paint/ depict a female figure/ a biblical scene/ a pastoral landscape/ a domestic interior.

depict: /dɪˈpɪkt/ to show an image of somebody/ something in a picture.  
depict/ illustrate a traditional/ mythological/ historical/ religious theme.

create an abstract composition/ a richly textured surface/ a distorted perspective. 

paint dark/rich/skin/flesh tones.

use broad brush strokes/ loose brushwork/ vibrant colours/ a limited palette/ simple geometric forms. 

develop/ adopt/ paint in a stylized manner/an abstract style.


/ˈɑːtɪfækt/ an object that is made by a person, especially something of historical or cultural interest. E.g. gold and silver artefacts.


/ɪkˈskwɪzɪt/ extremely beautiful or carefully made. E.g. exquisite craftsmanship. Her wedding dress was absolutely exquisite.  


a work of art such as a painting, film/movie, book, etc. that is an excellent, or the best, example of the artist's work. E.g. The museum houses several of his Cubist masterpieces. Her work is a masterpiece of (= an excellent example of) simplicity. 


(/əˈlʊərɪŋ/ attractive and exciting in a mysterious way. Sp. seductor. E.g. An alluring smile)


 (dazzle somebody to impress somebody a lot with your beauty, skill, etc. E.g. He was dazzled by the warmth of her smile.)


 (extremely bright, especially so as to blind the eyes temporarily. Impressive. Sp. cegador, que deslumbra. E.g. the sunlight was dazzling. A dazzling display of oriental dance.)  


/ˈluːsɪd/ clearly expressed; easy to understand. Clear. E.g a lucid style/explanation. 


/flæmˈbɔɪənt/1. (of people or their behaviour) different, confident and exciting in a way that attracts attention. Exuberante, extravagante. E.g. a flamboyant gesture/style/personality. He was flamboyant and temperamental on and off the stage. 2. brightly coloured and noticeable. Vistoso, llamativo. E.g. flamboyant clothes/designs. 


/ɪnˈspaɪərɪŋ/ Exciting and encouraging you to do or feel something. E.g. an inspiring teacher.  

catch somebody's eye: 

 1. if something catches your eye, you suddenly notice it. E.g. There was one painting that caught my eye.
2. to attract somebody's attention. E.g. Can you catch the waiter's eye? 


/hjuː/ a colour; a particular shade of a colour. Hued: coloured. E.g. His face took on an unhealthy whitish hue. Her paintings capture the subtle hues of the countryside in autumn.


red. E.g. a florid complexion. 


(a thin layer of gold, or something like gold that is used on a surface for decoration. Sp. recubrimiento de oro)  

reminiscent of sth/sb

/ˌremɪˈnɪsnt/reminding you of somebody/something. E.g. The way he laughed was strongly reminiscent of his father. She writes in a style reminiscent of both Proust and Faulkner. 

eyeball somebody/something 

(informal): to look at somebody/something in a way that is very direct and not always polite or friendly. E.g. They eyeballed each other across the room. 


 to look steadily at somebody/something for a long time, either because you are very interested or surprised, or because you are thinking of something else. E.g. He sat for hours just gazing into space. 

cast/run an eye/your eyes over something: 

to look at or examine something quickly. Check. E.g. Could you just run your eyes over this report?  


 / ˈmɑːstəli/ showing great skill or understanding. E.g. a masterly performance. Her handling of the situation was masterly.

have/get something down to a fine art also have something off to a fine art

to be able to do something very well, usually because you have been doing it for a long time. E.g. He's got sandwich making down to a fine art. I spend so much time travelling that I've got packing down to a fine art.

Monologue: questions

/juːˈbɪkwɪtəs / seeming to be everywhere or in several places at the same time; very common. Sp. ubicuo. E.g.The ubiquitous bicycles of university towns. The ubiquitous movie star, Tom Hanks. 


/pəˈveɪsɪv/ existing in all parts of a place or thing; spreading gradually to affect all parts of a place or thing. Sp. generalizado, dominante, ubicuo. E.g. a pervasive smell of damp (Sp. penetrante). Her influence is all-pervasive (= it affects everyone and everything). A sense of social change is pervasive in her novels. 

abstract /ˈæbstrækt/ not representing people or things in a realistic way, but expressing the artist's ideas about them. E.g. the work of American abstract expressionists like Mark Rothko. 


/ˈfɪɡərətɪv/ (of paintings, art, etc.) showing people, animals and objects as they really look. Sp. figutativo. E.g. a figurative artist. 


/ˌreprɪzenˈteɪʃnl/  (especially of a style of art or painting) trying to show things as they really are. E:g. It is on pottery that representational art first appeared again in ancient Greece. 

outdo somebody/something 

 to do more or better than somebody else. E.g. Sometimes small firms can outdo big business when it comes to customer care.


/daɪˈdæktɪk/ /dɪ-/

not see eye to eye with somebody (on something): 

to not share the same views as somebody about something. E.g. The two of them have never seen eye to eye on politics.


/ˈædvəkeɪt/ to support something publicly. E.g. The group does not advocate the use of violence.

art for art's sake 

used to convey the idea that the chief or only aim of a work of art is the self-expression of the individual artist who creates it. 
Teacher's questions:
take something/ somebody by storm: 

 to be extremely successful very quickly in a particular place or among particular people. Sp. arrasar. E.g. The play took London by storm.

a sight for sore eyes  

(informal) a person or thing that you are pleased to see; something that is very pleasant to look at. E.g. Rembrandt's paintings are a sight for sore eyes. 


a building, an object, etc. that is unpleasant to look at. E.g. That old factory is a real eyesore!

out of this world 

(informal) used to emphasize how good, beautiful, etc. something is. E.g. The meal was out of this world.

the sky's the limit 

(informal) there is no limit to what somebody can achieve, earn, do, etc. E.g. With a talent like his, the sky's the limit.  


/ˈɑːtɪstri/ the skill of an artist. E.g. He played the piece with effortless artistry. An appreciation of the beauty and artistry of the painting.


 to describe somebody/ something as being very good or special, especially in newspapers, etc. Sp. aclamar. E.g. hail somebody/ something as something The conference was hailed as a great success

in your own right 

because of your personal qualifications or efforts, not because of your connection with somebody else. Sp. por derecho propio. E.g. She sings with a rock band, but she's also a jazz musician in her own right. He was already established as a poet in his own right

be up to the job 

 have the necessary ability. Sp. tener las condiciones necesarias para el trabajo. E.g. I'm afraid Tim just isn't up to the job.


 /ˌkæk ˈhændɪd/ a cack-handed person often drops or breaks things or does things badly. Clumsy. E.g. a great song ruined by cack-handed production.   

botch something (up): 

(informal) to spoil something by doing it badly. Sp. estropear, hacer una chapuza. E.g. He completely botched up the interview. The work they did on the house was a botched job.  


/ˈhændiwɜːk/ work that you do, or something that you have made, especially using your artistic skill. Sp. manualidad/ trabajo manual. E.g. We admired her exquisite handiwork.

out of hand 

 difficult or impossible to control. E.g. Unemployment is getting out of hand.

turn a blind eye (to something)

to pretend not to notice something bad that is happening, so you do not have to do anything about it. E.g. The authorities were either unaware of the problem or turned a blind eye to it.   


 /ˈwɜːθləs/ having no practical or financial value. E.g. Critics say his paintings are worthless. 

beauty is in the eye of the beholder: 

(saying) people all have different ideas about what is beautiful. 


a sum of money that is paid to somebody who has written a book, piece of music, etc. each time that it is sold or performed. Sp. derechos de autor. E.g. All royalties from the album will go to charity. She received £2000 in royalties. A royalty payment. 

in good, bad, etc. repair. In a good, bad, etc. state of repair

 in good, etc. condition. E.g. The house is not in good repair


a building, road, etc. that is in a state of disrepair has not been taken care of and is broken or in bad condition. E.g. The station quickly fell into disrepair after it was closed. The building had fallen into disrepair. The castle was in such a state of disrepair that they decided not to spend money on it.

restore/preserve a fresco/great works of art.


 /ˈfʌŋkʃənl/ practical and useful; with little or no decoration. E.g. Bathrooms don't have to be purely functional. The office was large and functional rather than welcoming. Making architecture that is beautiful and not functional is not a good idea.


/iːsˈθetɪk/ made in an artistic way and beautiful to look at. E.g. Their furniture was more aesthetic than functional. Sometimes it seems that the main pursuit of contemporary architecture is the aesthetic side. Aesthetics (n) /iːsˈθetɪks/ Architects should be trying to create a design in which functionality and aesthetics exist in harmony. It is essential that architects consider this when building the future or else we will be living in a pretty world that is pretty uncomfortable, too. 


 to produce a dull, steady light. E.g. The embers (Sp. brasas) still glowed in the hearth (/hɑːθ /the floor at the bottom of a fireplace). The lighted candles glowed in the darkness.  


 a bright light in the shape of a star, or a shape that looks like a star exploding. 


 a sudden flash of light or colour shining from a bright surface. Sp. Destello. E.g. the glint of the sun on the water. Golden glints in her red hair. She saw a glint of silver in the grass. 


if a strong light dazzles you, it is so bright that you cannot see for a short time. Sp. Deslumbrar. E.g. He was momentarily dazzled by the strong sunlight. 


too bright or too noisy in a way that is not attractive. E.g. It was real gold but it still looked brash and cheap


/ɪmˈpəʊzɪŋ/ impressive to look at; making a strong impression. Sp. imponente, impresionante E.g. a grand and imposing building. A tall imposing woman.


 /ˈɡrændjə(r)/ /ˈɡrændʒə(r)/ the quality of being great and impressive in appearance. Splendour. Sp. grandeza, majestuosidad, esplendor. E.g. the grandeur and simplicity of Roman architecture. 

the cutting edge (of something) 

 the newest, most advanced stage in the development of something. Sp. innovador. E.g. working at the cutting edge of computer technology. Researchers at the cutting edge of molecular biology. 


 extremely attractive or impressive. Beautiful. E.g. You look absolutely stunning! A stunning view of the lake. His performance was simply stunning.


 having such a strong effect on you that you cannot give your attention to anything else.  


 fascinated. E.g. They were mesmerized by her performance. 

fascinating. E.g. Her performance was mesmerizing. This exhibition is mesmerising.


extremely tall or high and therefore impressive. E.g. towering cliffs.


(ostentatiously costly and luxurious. E.g. the opulent comfort of a limousine) 

art is long, life is short 

proverb there is so much knowledge to acquire that a lifetime is not sufficient.

(go) back to the drawing board: 

to start thinking about a new way of doing something after a previous plan or idea has failed. E.g. They rejected our proposal, so it's back to the drawing board. 

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