The Floating University

Video Quiz

Take this quiz to test your knowledge of President Botstein's art lecture. Find the answer key at the bottom, as well as an additional quiz on the assigned reading!

(1.) According to Botstein’s broad definition of art in the beginning of the lecture, which of the following descriptions would most likely deserve that label?

  • (A.) A well-framed cell phone photograph of a group of friends enjoying a night out.
  • (B.) A giant clock face with toilet brushes instead of hands.
  • (C.) A large lump of clay displayed in an art gallery.
  • (D.) Stills taken from the surveillance camera at a busy bank.

(2.) Which of the following statements best exemplifies the difference between a work by Jackson Pollock and a child’s finger painting?

  • (A.) Jackson Pollock’s works are worth millions of dollars apiece, whereas a child’s finger paintings are worth less than the materials used to make them.
  • (B.) Jackson Pollock’s work has stood the test of time and is regarded by nearly all contemporary critics and masterful, whereas a child’s finger painting has few advocates beyond a small group of family members and teachers.
  • (C.) Jackson Pollock’s work is distinguished by the application of technique, design, and intent, whereas the child’s finger painting is likely to be rough, uneven, and random.
  • (D.) Jackson Pollock had access to huge canvasses, studios, and any variety of paint he wanted, whereas a finger painting child only has a few basic tools, and is unable to match the scale and complexity of Pollock’s work.

(3.) All of the following would be expressive artistic features of a museum dedicated to Native Americans EXCEPT:

  • (A.) A conical building shell evocative of a teepee.
  • (B.) A floor layout in which there are no private offices or areas where visitors are not allowed to go, to emphasize the lack of ownership of the land in Native American societies.
  • (C.) Entrance ways that do not close or lock, creating a facsimile of the gray line between indoors and nature in traditional Native American culture.
  • (D.) A central gift shop where visitors can purchase authentic replicas of Native American pottery, jewelry, cookware, and weapons.

(4.) Which of the following statements about the purpose of art would Botstein most likely agree with?

  • (A.) Art provides a sense of human uniqueness and a source of meaning in a world in which people are divorced from manual labor and the production of their own food and clothes.
  • (B.) Art provides a vital outlet for people to produce and sell art for a living, as there are fewer and fewer jobs available for a large segment of the populace that used to work on farms or in factories.
  • (C.) Art is mostly of importance to the wealthy and to people who exist within the art world, who decide based on their tastes and current fashion what is really art and what isn’t.
  • (D.) Art is only of use in demonstrating the talent of artistic individuals; even if most people will live meaningless lives, they can look up to artists as heroes who have the ability to create.

(5.) Which of the following statements best describes the attitude of a capitalist democracy toward art?

  • (A.) The marketplace will inevitably distort the purpose and content of art, so the state should step in and oversee all production and encouragement of art-making, and to ensure that only genuine artistic motives are behind works of entertainment.
  • (B.) Art is not a popularity contest, and using a majority rules ethos toward the production of art will stifle artists who do not conform to mainstream sensibilities, requiring state funding to ensure the existence of quality art.
  • (C.) Art has no overlap with the functions of government, and thus the government has no say as to what constitutes good art, and no role to play in commissioning works of art.
  • (D.) If art is valuable, the market will determine the demand for it, and the art that makes enough money to justify its existence is thus the only necessary form of artistic production.

(6.) Which of the following systems for deciding which art should be made and promoted would Botstein most likely endorse?

  • (A.) A patronage system, in which the wealthy commission works of art along set parameters, and allow artists maximal freedom within those parameters to practice their art to the best of their ability.
  • (B.) A public finance system, in which artists take their proposals online and solicit the public to fund their work if they want to see it produced, similar to the website Kickstarter.
  • (C.) A peer review system, in which acknowledged practitioners of the arts would evaluate new works and proposals, and assign them funding in as objective a way as is possible, similar to scientific peer review.
  • (D.) A top-down system, in which the political party in power selects artists to produce works that best emphasizes the political values favored by the party.

(7.) All of the following describe political art productions EXCEPT:

  • (A.) An action-packed trailer before a theatrical film encouraging watchers to learn more about the Air Force.
  • (B.) An opera written and performed for the birthday of an autocratic dictator.
  • (C.) A building designed to house the presidential library of an outgoing US president.
  • (D.) A controversial group of radicals march at a demonstration while blasting a Mahler symphony from a loudspeaker.

(8.) Which of the following statements about the social utility of art would Botstein most likely agree with?

  • (A.) Art that does not investigate or acknowledge the plight of the least well off in society is ultimately of no social worth, and falls prey to Plato’s criticism that art has no end but its own perfection.
  • (B.) Art that trades in the social plight of the poor allows patrons to feel as if they’ve helped out a cause, when in fact they’ve simply edified their own sense of being just, as Rousseau warned.
  • (C.) Art that deals explicitly with social issues has a valid place in the artistic discourse, but it is important that only people who have experienced the problems portrayed produce this art, otherwise it functions as exploitation.
  • (D.) The highest purpose of all art is to emphasize the universal brotherhood of man, as Tolstoy advocated, and thus the most important art functions to break down social divisions between races, classes, and cultures.

(9.) Why has the death of high-fidelity recording in favor of MP3s been beneficial to the performing arts, according to Botstein?

  • (A.) The low-quality of digital recordings emphasizes the vibrancy of real-life performance and the collective quality of the experience of live music, plays, and operas.
  • (B.) The vast amount of MP3s available makes it very difficult to cultivate taste coherently, making the culture surrounding live performance more vital and necessary to forming taste and attachment.
  • (C.) Because digital recordings tend to be of low sound quality, it has led many music listeners to become bored or irritated with recorded music, requiring them to seek out live performance to listen to high-quality versions of songs.
  • (D.) Because owning records is passé, and MP3 files have no intrinsic material value, people have to go to live performances in order to record their favorite bands and post the live performance to the internet; publishing the highest-quality recording of a live show takes the place of music collecting among enthusiasts.

(10.) Which of the following statements best describes a practical skill you might pick up from studying and practicing the arts?

  • (A.) You take a class on architecture over the millennia, and find that you are able to point out architectural features extensively to your friends and family during leisure activities.
  • (B.) You take a modern dance class and find that the breathing and posture techniques you’ve learned have made you a better public speaker.
  • (C.) You take an introductory figure painting class that focuses on live nudes as models, and find that afterwards you are more comfortable being around naked people at the gym.
  • (D.) You take an introductory class on filmmaking and find that you are better able to structure your spontaneous conversations in day-to-day life.

Answer Key: (1.) B, (2.) C, (3.) B, (4.) A, (5.) D, (6.) C, (7.) A, (8.) B, (9.) A, (10.) D

Reading Quiz

This quiz is based on:

Course Pack: Paul Valery, "Eupalinos," or, "The Architect."

(1.) What did Epalinos most likely mean when he said “There are no details in execution”?

  • (A.) Dying is a transformative experience much like the observation of a great work of art, but dying is an instantaneous act that does not allow for the appreciation of details, contrary to the experience of art.
  • (B.) The details in a great work, be it a building or a sculpture, must be puzzled out before hand by the artist, who then executes the plan with no conscious consideration of these details.
  • (C.) The execution of a well-made object, for instance a speech, fools the observer into noticing different details than the ones that actually matter, such as the cadence of an oration rather than its content.
  • (D.) The effect of a great work of art on a human does not admit the consideration of the minute details that add up to make the whole; the effect is unified and complete.

(2.) Which of the following statements best explains Epalinos’ metaphor of the roses?

  • (A.) A bunch of roses is an instantaneous glimpse of the perfection of beauty, that Epalinos absorbs into himself by forming a wax simulacra; this insight would be lost had he not the talent of his art to forge a brass version that resists the onslaught of time.
  • (B.) A bunch of roses is an instantaneous glimpse of the perfection of beauty, that Epalinos absorbs into himself by forming a wax simulacrum; time, however, wilts the rose and eventually melts the wax, and thus mortals are unable to preserve insight granted by divine nature.
  • (C.) A bunch of roses represents the eternal beauty of nature that will continue on forever even as individual men die. Epalinos’ wax simulacrum preserves the form of this beauty, but fails to capture its living essence; the brass result from the wax mold represents man’s arrogance, as it lasts longer than wax but is even less like the original roses.
  • (D.) A bunch of roses reminds man of his mortality, as his life will wilt like roses. Epalinos crafts a wax simulacrum to remind himself of life’s short duration; this insight would be lost had he not the talent of his art to forge a brass version that resists the onslaught of time.

-music and architecture vs. painting and sculpture

(3.) Which of the following statements best explains Socrates’ treatment of geometry?

  • (A.) Geometric objects are those that can be traced on a plane within the arm’s reach of the transcriber, whatever form those lines may take, resembling real objects or otherwise.
  • (B.) Geometric objects are those that the transcriber purposefully traces on a plain with reference to an existing model.
  • (C.) Geometric objects are those that can be expressed as an order of a few words that correspond to movements that trace the geometric object.
  • (D.) Geometric objects are those that correspond to mathematical calculations, and will always come out in the same proportion regardless of the scale desired by the transcriber, unlike the profile of a person or object, which will vary depending on size.

(4.) Why do Phaedrus and Socrates conclude that architecture is the highest art?

  • (A.) Architecture is the highest art in that it fulfills man’s desire for function, form, and duration all in one work of art.
  • (B.) Architecture is the highest art because it entirely encompasses a human, mastering all of his senses, unlike painting or sculpture which are encompassed within the gaze.
  • (C.) Architecture is the highest art because it alone of the arts is able to elicit in the observer a sense of music, the melody and tone of which are determined by the building’s form.
  • (D.) Architecture is the highest art because it requires a great magnitude of human labor to affect, and no one man can make a building; the unity of action required comes the closest of any art to the labor of the gods.

(5.) Which of the following statements best expresses Socrates’ regret at choosing to pursue philosophy in life instead of architecture?

  • (A.) The words and thoughts of men had already neared perfection by virtue of thousands of years of craft and increasing precision, whereas architecture is the newest and yet unperfected of the arts; were Socrates an architect, he could have had a far greater impact on the advancement of man toward divine perfection.
  • (B.) Philosophy led Socrates to his premature doom when he was sentenced to death for questioning the wisdom of his peers, whereas as an architect he could have presented his talents in a way that all men would have enjoyed.
  • (C.) Though Socrates espoused much wisdom in his life, it was left to others to preserve his words and thoughts, which is always done imperfectly, corrupting his meaning; were he an architect his edifices would have spoke for themselves.
  • (D.) The pursuit of thought creates only more thought of the same substance, whereas architecture mimics the active pursuit of perfection in the same manner in which God created the Earth.

Answer Key: (1.) D, (2.) A, (3.) C, (4.) A, (5.) D