400 Must Have Words for the TOEFL » LESSON 37 - Painting and Sculpture

Word List
  • abstract [ˈæbstrækt] adj.
    Not concrete and realistic; not obviously related to everyday experience
    Abstract painting became popular partly because early photography was very realistic.
    Parts of speech     abstraction n.
  • context [ˈkɒntekst] n.
    A larger environment that something fits into
    In the context of Soviet Russia, public art had to be about the triumph of communism and its leaders.
    Usage tips     The preposition in often comes before context, and an of phrase often comes after it.
    Parts of speech     contextualize v., contextual adj.
  • depict [dɪˈpɪkt] v.
    To show in pictures
    Michelangelo’s painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel depicts nine scenes from the Bible.
    Parts of speech     depiction n.
  • dimension [dɪˈmenʃən] n.
    A direction or surface along which something can be measured; an aspect
    The three dimensions of physical objects are length, width, and depth.
    Parts of speech dimensional adj.
  • esthetically [ɛsˈθɛdɪkli] adv.
    In a way that relates to beauty or appearance
    The outside of the office building is esthetically pleasing,but the inside is dark and unpleasant.
    Usage tips     Esthetically is often spelled with an “a”at the beginning: aesthetically.
    Parts of speech     esthetic n., esthete n., esthetic adj.
  • intrinsic [ɪnˈtrɪnsɪk] adj.
    Being part of the basic nature of something
    Frequent elections are intrinsic to a democratic system.
    Parts of speech     intrinsically adv.
  • perspective [pəˈspektɪv] n.
    A way of seeing from a particular location; a way of thinking about something
    From my perspective, the entire town can be seen through a set of large windows.
  • portrayal [pɔːˈtreɪəl] n.
    A description or drawing that reflects a certain point of view
    Most portrayals of Abraham Lincoln emphasize his sense of humor and his honesty.
    Usage tips     Portrayal is often followed by an of phrase to indicate what is being described.
    Parts of speech     portray v.
  • realism [ˈrɪəlɪzəm] n.
    A technique that tries to picture something as it really looks
    Realism was popular among seventeenth-century Flemish painters like Rembrandt van Rijn.
    Parts of speech     realist n., realistic adj.
  • spectrum [ˈspektrəm] n.
    A range of different things, usually colors
    Bart’s colorful designs include every color of the spectrum, from deep blue to vibrant red.
    Usage tips     The phrase the spectrum frequently means “the colors that the human eye can see.”

TOEFL Prep I Find the word or phrase that is closest in meaning to each word in the left-hand column. Write the letter in the blank.

______ 1. abstract (a) to show
______ 2. depict (b) depiction
______ 3. esthetically (c) presenting an idea, not a realistic picture
______ 4. perspective (d) in a way that relates to beauty
______ 5. portrayal (e) way of seeing things from a certain place

TOEFL Prep II Circle the word that best completes each sentence.

  1. The materials that go into a work of art usually have little (abstract / intrinsic) value.
  2. In the 1970s, artists known as “the Boston School” revived (realism / context) by rejecting abstract techniques and trying to capture the actual appearance of their subjects.
  3. The colors of light that we can see are known as the visible (spectrum / perspective).
  4. Medieval artists did not try to use (context / perspective) to give a sense of depth to their paintings.
  5. The small, separate strokes of impressionist paintings give the works a dreamlike (portrayal / dimension).
Answer Key
TOEFL Prep I
  1. c
  2. a
  3. d
  4. e
  5. b
TOEFL Prep II
  1. intrinsic
  2. realism
  3. spectrum
  4. perspective
  5. dimension
Answer Key

TOEFL Success Read the passage to review the vocabulary you have learned. Answer the questions that follow.

Whether something is “art” is largely a matter of opinion. Art that most people consider to have no intrinsic value can contain a great treasure of ideas and invention to someone who sees something special in it. Styles in all the arts range over a wide spectrum. Some good art is esthetically unchallenging and easy to understand. Other works are strange forms, totally out of context to everyone but the artist. One artist’s portrayal of an everyday object, such as a bouquet of flowers, may be grounded in realism and easily recognizable. Another painter’s depiction of the same bouquet may be very abstract, resembling flowers only in the artist’s mind. Regardless of the artist’s approach, the best art reveals new dimensions of experience and looks at the world from a fresh perspective.

Bonus StructureTotally means “completely” or “in every way.”

  1. Which sentence best expresses the essential information of this passage?
    • a. Styles of art have changed throughout history.
    • b. Realistic art has more meaning than abstract art.
    • c. Esthetically pleasing art is too simple to contain much meaning.
    • d. Works of art can mean different things, depending on one’s perspective.
  2. According to this reading, what is one big difference between abstract art and realistic art?
    • a. Abstract art is harder to sell.
    • b. Abstract art is harder to understand.
    • c. Abstract art is harder to produce.
    • d. Abstract art is harder to look at.
Answer Key
Answer Key
  1. d
  2. b
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