For this task, you will read a passage and then listen to a lecture on the same topic. You may take notes while you read and listen. Then, you will write a response to a question that asks you about the relationship between the reading and the lecture. The question does not ask you to express your personal opinion. You may refer to the reading passage again when you write, but you will only be allowed to hear the lecture one time. You may use your notes to help you answer the question. Typically, an effective response will be 150 to 225 words. You should allow 3 minutes to read the passage. After 3 minutes, listen to the lecture. Finally, allow 20 minutes to plan and write your essay.
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During the eighteenth century, the Rococo style became predominant in European art and architecture. The style emphasized bright colors, elaborate ornamentation, and the use of playful designs and subject matter. While Rococo artists dominated Europe for decades, since the nineteenth century the style has been widely ridiculed.
Perhaps the most historically interesting reason that Rococo art lost popularity is that Rococo artists often worked for aristocratic patrons, decorating mansions and palaces. However, the late eighteenth century saw major political revolutions in Europe emphasizing social equality. Rococo artists, meanwhile, created overly elaborate, expensive art for wealthy audiences who exploited or ignored the working class. Rococo art came to symbolize the arrogance and vanity of the old ruling classes.
Rococo was also condemned for its frivolous subject matter. Later artistic movements often put great emphasis on creating art with positive social messages. Rococo artists, in contrast, tended to focus on non-serious subject matter, such as aristocrats playing games in the countryside or lovers on picnics. The artists’ lack of engagement with serious philosophical ideas meant their work had little depth or sophistication.
Finally, the Rococo’s emphasis on the use of expensive materials to create an illusion of opulence has also fallen into disfavor. Today, elements such as gilded surfaces and beaming cherubs, hallmarks of Rococo art, seem more gaudy than inspired. For generations of viewers, the style has come to epitomize the idea of “style over substance.” Its use of asymmetrical designs and emphasis on melodramatic uses of light and color often create an over-the-top rather than impressive effect.
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