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#6 - Must Be True, Author's Perspective

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I am looking for a quick clarification on why B is the superior answer to E for this question.

I agree that the statement made in B about photography inspiring the abstract works of modern art. That is clearly laid out in paragraph 3.

However, I also see the statement in E as holding true that once "photography preempted painting as the means of obtaining portraits, painters had more freedom to vary their subject matter, thus giving rise to the abstract creations characteristic of modern art."

Can you explain what the error in E is?

Thank you!
Shannon Parker
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Hi there,

Answer choice E is the correct answer for this question.

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OK, opposite question from the last post -- why is E superior to B ?? I looked back into the passage to prove my answer choice, and the author explicitly states what is contained in answer choice B: (lines 45-50) "In addition, Impressionist artists like Degas studied the elements of light and movement captured by instantaneous photography and used their new understanding of the way our perceptions distort reality to try to more accurately capture reality in their work." and, continuing to the last sentence of the passage..: (lines 62-63) "...thus giving rise to the abstract creations characteristic of modern art."

Also, maybe related, how in the heck is the author using the word "preempt" in this passage? It appears twice: lines 22 & 60. It seems like the author is contradicting him/herself by the two usages...
Jon Denning
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Hi avengingangel - let me see if I can help you out!

E is correct based of the final lines of the passage, where we’re told that when “photography preempted painting as the means of obtaining portraits [i.e. portraiture became less common/popular], painters had more freedom to vary their subject matter.” That’s exactly what E gives us: when painters were painting fewer portraits (due to photos’ increased usage), painters could move beyond literal depictions (conventional portraits) and explore non-literal (abstract) depictions.

B, on the other hand, is wrong for at least two reasons: first, it’s too broad in saying “the nineteenth-century knowledge of light and movement provided by photography,” since all we know is that some Impressionist artists studied elements of light and movement in photos, and their “knowledge” wasn’t about light/movement itself but rather about how they show that our perceptions can distort reality—that’s not the same as gaining insight into the true nature of light and movement; second, and more critically, saying that that knowledge “inspired the abstract works characteristic of modern art” is wayyy too strong when all we know is that Degas and perhaps only a few others (“Impressionist artists like Degas”) paid any attention to this aspect of photography. We certainly can’t know that the study by a handful of people was the inspiration for [all] modern arts’ abstract characteristics.

As for the use of "preempt(ed)" it's consistent here. In both cases--"artistic efforts achieved with machines preempt human creativity," and "photography preempted painting as the means of obtaining portraits"--it means to prevent or take the place of, two entirely acceptable usages. In the former it's used to suggest that machines hamper/subvert human creativity; in the latter it's used to indicate photography replaced painting as the main means of making portraits. If you look up "preempt" you'll see both as part of its definition :)

I hope that helps!
Jon Denning
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Thanks for the explanations on why E is correct. Can you expand on why D is incorrect? I chose this after re-reading the last paragraph; I see why E is correct, but still a bit confused how to eliminate D.

I guess for me, I took the Impressionist style as what the paintings were able to move away from as a result of technology and cameras. So in my mind, D and E are almost identical.

Charlie Melman
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Hi Y,

We learn from the passage that artists were set free from the things that bound them before, but they weren't set free from Impressionism. That's what the phrase "less limited to the Impressionist style" indicates.

Hope this helps.
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Why is not A the answer?

Thank you.
Francis O'Rourke
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Hi Pamela,

Is there any part of the passage that you see as providing evidence for answer choice (A)?

In lines 60 - 64, the author states that since photography became the primary medium for portraits, painters acquired freedom to vary their subject matter. This is direct evidence for answer choice (E). This paragraph does not say that the painters first varied their portraiture methods before reaching out to other subject matters. Rather it was the freedom from creating portraits that let them experiment with other subjects.