Test: LSAT Reading

"Perspective" by William Floyd (2015)

In the visual arts, “perspective” describes creating a two-dimensional image which has the illusion of depth and shading to make it appear like a three-dimensional image. The ability to paint with perspective was a Renaissance idea, when painters such as Jan van Eyck and Leonardo da Vinci created scenes which had a revolutionary look, particularly as compared to the notably flat medieval paintings of earlier artists. These reflected life in a way that it was thought painting could never hope to achieve. The question that obviously arises from this revolution in painting is why the artists of the middle ages felt so comfortable with their lack of such perspective.

The fifteenth century Italian painter and Dominican friar born Guido Pietri was dubbed Fra Beato Angleico, which in English is “the Blessed Angelic Friar,” for the way he captured the imagination of his contemporaries. While he painted less than a century before da Vinci, Fra Angelico appears to belong to a different tradition entirely, with a completely different aesthetic sense. His portraits are oddly formal, while his crowd scenes are so busy as to be overwhelming. To look at his “Annunciation of the Virgin” or “Last Judgement” is to see a painting which is almost too flat and busy, necessitating a careful look at each element, moving across the painting, rather than being able to take in the entire scene of the painting at once.

Which might be the actual expectation of a medieval painter. Any scene with a dozen saints has such precision in the portrayal of each saint, who has to be recognizable to every worshipful person viewing it, that it requires an up close view of every single element. Additionally, the subject matter is presented in such a way as to make the viewer move from left to right. This essentially means that a medieval viewer “read” a painting as much as they viewed it. Each element was a self-contained piece which needed to be viewed in a specific order. Rather than conveying one scene, the painting was actually more of a storytelling device. Naturally, the time of perspective was also the time the printing press brought widespread literacy to Europe. With more people being able to read a text, a painting had less need to function as a text itself, making a revolution in painting a necessity for the genre.

1.

Which of the following statements must be true based on the information provided in the passage?

Medieval artists were far inferior to Renaissance artists in terms of technical ability.

Perspective was only widely used by painters during the Renaissance era.

Very few technical innovations have been made in painting since the Renaissance era.

Medieval art often depicted religious themes and subjects.

Renaissance artists had no regard for the work of medieval artists.

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