BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 32

BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 32


BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 32
BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 32



Salvador Dali

Few with even a passing knowledge of the art world are likely not to have heard of Salvador Dali, the eccentric and avant-garde exponent of the Surrealist movement. Love him or loathe him, Dali’s work has achieved enduring worldwide fame as his name and work have become virtually synonymous with Surrealism itself. The artist’s melting clock image is surely one of the most iconic paintings of the art world, whilst Dali’s antics have become the stuff of anecdotes.

Born into a middle-class family in the Catalonian town of Figueres in north-eastern Spain, Dali (or Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali Domenech, to give him his full name) aimed high from the beginning. In the artist’s 1942 autobiography entitled ‘The Secret Life of Salvador Dali’, the artist describes how ‘At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since.’ Such ambition and self-belief matured into full-blown arrogance in later years. An example of this is amply shown on an occasion when the artist felt the examiners of the Madrid Academy, he was attending were well below par.

To a degree, his undeniably impressive and precocious talent excused his conceit. He was only 14 when his first works were exhibited as part of a show in Figueres. Then three years later he was admitted to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, in Madrid. However, it wasn’t long before Dali’s highly developed sense of self-worth (or conceit, depending on how you view the artist) came to the fore and also affected the course of his life. Believing himself way superior to the Academy tutors, who nevertheless refused to grant him a degree, the rebellious artist left for Paris. There he hoped to avail himself of knowledge that he believed his tutors were not adequate to impart. He soon made the acquaintance of the French surrealist Jean Arp, Rene Magritte and Max Ernst and this would prove a turning point in Dali’s artistic life.

Already familiar with the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud, Dali was to witness how the French surrealists were attempting to capture Freud’s ideas in paint. The whole world of the unconscious sublimated into dreams was to become the content of these artists’ work and later that of Dali’s, too. International acclaim followed shortly after. In 1933 he enjoyed solo exhibitions in Paris and New York City, becoming, as one exhibition curator put it, ‘Surrealism’s most exotic and prominent figure’. Praise continued to be heaped on Dali as French poet and critic, Andre Breton, the leader of the Surrealist movement gave the artist his blessing to continue carrying the torch for the artistic movement, writing that Dali’s name was ‘synonymous with revelation in the most resplendent sense of the word’.

Dali’s surrealist paintings were packed with Freudian imagery: staircases, keys, dripping candles, in addition to a whole host of personally relevant symbolism such as grasshoppers and ants that captured his phobias on canvas. Despite Dali’s overt adulation for Freud, a meeting with the grandmaster of psychoanalysis proved somewhat unfortunate. On the occasion that Dali met Freud, he proceeded to sketch the latter in earnest. However, something about Dali’s fervid attitude must have alarmed the psychoanalyst as he is said to have whispered to others in the room, ‘The boy looks like a fanatic.’

Sometimes Dali not only came across as mad but also unintelligible, at least as far as his paintings were concerned. One work, ‘The Persistence of Memory’, was particularly singled out for the sheer confusion it caused amongst its viewers. Featuring melting clocks, swarming ants and a mollusc that was the deflated head of Dali in disguise, the images were so puzzling that one critic urged readers to ‘Page Dr. Freud’ to uncover the meaning of the canvas. His work was, if nothing else, provocative and powerful.

With the passing years, Dali became ever more infatuated with money, admitting to a ‘pure, vertical, mystical, gothic love of cash.’ Accordingly, he indiscriminately endorsed a host of products for French and American TV commercials. He also never failed to promote himself and displayed increasingly exhibitionist behaviour as time went on. Most notably, he once turned up for a lecture in Paris in a Rolls Royce stuffed with cauliflowers. He obviously believed the slogan of one of his advertising campaigns for Braniff Airlines, where he declares ‘If you got it, flaunt it’. As a more positive outcome of his love for money, Dali took on increasingly diverse projects, ranging from set design to designing clothes and jewellery. His critics, however, believed that early on in his career his love for money exceeded his dedication to producing great art, resulting in Dali producing ‘awful junk’ after 1939, according to one art critic.

Despite a lukewarm reception from critics, Dali’s public popularity never declined. In 1974, at 70 years old, the Dali Theatre Museum opened in his hometown, Figueres. More of a surrealist happening than a museum, one exhibit was a long black Cadillac that rained inside itself whenever a visitor dropped a coin into the slot. Even today hundreds of thousands of visitors still tour the museum each year. Whatever your opinion of him, at least Dali is unlikely to ever be forgotten.

Question 11-13

Complete each sentence with correct ending. A-E, below. Write the correct letter, A-E next to questions 11-13.

11. Dali displayed a precocious talent from an early age: however, he was aware ______________.

12. Encountering the French Surrealist painters in Paris __________________.

13. Dales artistic legacy is secure although _______________.

A. of certain limitations in his artistic skills that became evident in his later works.

B. opened Dales eyes to the psychoanalytic movement, the ideas of which he then incorporated into his works.

C. his artistic studies needed to be supplemented by going to Paris to meet the Surrealist artists.

D. some art critics are less impressed with his work than the general public.

E. inspired Dali to focus on the psychoanalytic content of his artwork.

Question 14-16

Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D

14. Dali’s departure for Paris was i

A. Inspired by a desire to learn about psychoanalysis.

B.  a result of being disgraced at the Madrid Academy.

C. to blame for his failure to complete his Academy degree.

D. a quest for self-improvement.

15. Dali came to represent the Surrealist Movement

A. due to a personal endorsement by fellow artist, Andre Breton.

B. because he depicted the most memorable images of Surrealism.

C. as he had a better understanding of psychoanalysis than his fellow artists.

D. since he was no more talented, as an artist, than his peers.

16. Dali’s work was

A. accessible to those with an understanding of psychoanalysis.

B. loaded with secret symbolism.

C. more a channel for personal expression than a financial undertaking.

D. to prove more popular as Dali grew older.

Questions 19-21

Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.

19. What does the writer convey about Dali’s childhood and student days?

A. His inability to pursue a goal until its conclusion

B. his mental instability, evident in his great ambitions

C. his supreme confidence in

D. his own abilities his obviously superior intelligence

20. Why did critics turn against Dali?

A. He had an obsession with fashionable clothing.

B. He was devoting more time to TV commercials than painting.

C. His work no longer did justice to his talent. 

D. His obsession with Surrealism overshadowed his work.

21. What does the writer convey about his own attitude towards Dali’s life and work?

A. He believes that despite promising beginnings, Dali wasted his talents.

B. In his opinion, few artists have made such an impact as Dali during his lifetime.

C. He thinks that people focused more on Dali’s exhibitionist behaviour than his talent.

D. He believes that despite his failings, Dali has left an enduring legacy.

Questions 22-26

Complete the summary below. Use NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer

Dali has managed to achieve 22____________, becoming the figurehead of the Surrwalist movement. His sheer 23________________, which for some might have been interpreted arrogance, led him to believe he was capable of achieving anything. Moving to France, where he encountered Surrealist artists, was a 24_________________   in his life. Dali’s work was chiefly inspired by freud’s 25__________________ theories. However, as Dali became increasingly infatuated with more) the standard of his art declined. Despite the fact that his work is of varying quality, Dali will never 26_______________.


11. C

12. E

13. D

14. D

15. B

16. B

17/18 C/D (in any order)

19. C

20. C

21. D

22. worldwide fame

23. ambition/self-belief

24. turning point

25. psychoanalytic

26. be forgotten


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