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Assumption. The correct answer choice is (D)
The stimulus concludes that abstract paintings can never be a politically significant form of art, because they are nonrepresentational and therefore do not spur the viewer to political action. This argument uses conditional reasoning, so it may be worth your time to quickly diagram it:
- AP = abstract paintings
R = representational
SPA = spur political action
PSA = politically significant art form
Premise: AP R
Premise: R SPA
Conclusion: AP PSA
Answer choice (A): The argument does not rely on the idea that abstract paintings cannot stimulate people to act — the premise is that they do not stimulate political action. Even if abstract paintings could stimulate people to act, they may still be unable to stimulate political action.
Answer choice (B): The significance of people's political activity is irrelevant to this argument. This answer choice is incorrect.
Answer choice (C): Because this answer choice links political action to artistic significance, it may seem attractive at first. However, significant art need not be restricted to art that prompts people to counter social injustice. What if other art forms were equally (or more) significant? This would not change the conclusion, which is about politically significant art forms, not significant art forms in general. Had the author concluded that abstract paintings can never be significant art, this would have been a fine answer.
Beware of Shell Game answers — they occur when an idea or concept is raised in the stimulus and then a very similar idea appears in the answer choice, but the idea is changed just enough to be incorrect but still attractive. In Assumption questions, the Shell Game is usually used to support a conclusion that is similar to, but slightly different from, the one presented in the stimulus.
Answer choice (D): This is the correct answer choice. The author relies on the assumption that paintings that fail to move a viewer to political action cannot be politically significant. If such paintings could be politically significant for other reasons, her conclusion would be undermined.
Answer choice (E): Even if the worth of representational paintings could be measured by analyzing the interplay of color, texture and form, representational paintings are not the focus of this argument: abstract paintings are. Furthermore, measuring the worth of any painting is an irrelevant consideration in this argument. This answer choice is incorrect.