GMAT Verbal Practice, Reading Comprehension
The encounter that a portrait records is most tangibly the sitting itself, which may be brief or extended, collegial or confrontational. Renowned photographer Cartier-Bresson has expressed his passion for portrait photography by characterizing it as "a duel without rules, a delicate rape." Such metaphors contrast quite sharply with Richard Avedon's conception of a sitting. While Cartier-Bresson reveals himself as an interloper and opportunist, Avedon confesses — perhaps uncomfortably — to a role as diagnostician and (by implication) psychic healer: not as someone who necessarily transforms his subjects, but as someone who reveals their essential nature. Both photographers, however, agree that the fundamental dynamic in this process lies squarely in the hands of the artist.
A quite-different paradigm has its roots not in confrontation or consultation but in active collaboration between the artist and sitter. This very different kind of relationship was formulated most vividly by William Hazlitt in his essay entitled "On Sitting for One's Picture" (1823). To Hazlitt, the "bond of connection" between painter and sitter is most like the relationship between two lovers. Hazlitt fleshes out his thesis by recalling the career of Sir Joshua Reynolds. According to Hazlitt, Reynold's sitters were meant to enjoy an atmosphere that was both comfortable for them and conducive to the enterprise of the portrait painter, who was simultaneously their host and their contractual employee. In the case of artists like Reynolds, no fundamental difference exists between the artist's studio and all those other rooms in which the sitters spin out the days of their lives. The act of entering Reynold's studio — this social and aesthetic encounter — did not necessarily transform those who sat for him. Collaboration in portraiture such as Reynolds' is based on the sitter's comfort and security as well as on his or her desire to experiment with something new; and it is in this "creation of another self," as Hazlitt put it, that the painter's subjects may properly see themselves for the first time.
Based on the passage information, with which of the following statements would both Avedon and Reynolds most likely agree?
- Control of the portrait-sitting experience should lie with the artist.
- A portrait is most likely to reveal the subject's true self when the sitting takes place in a setting familiar to the subject.
- During portrait sittings, subjects often enjoy revealing secrets about themselves to the artist.
- Paying an artist for a portrait of oneself undermines the mutual trust needed for a successful outcome.
- A person can gain new insight into himself or herself by sitting for a portrait.
Though the two portrait artists differ in how they view their social encounter with a subject, both acknowledge a psycho-analytical dimension to the portraiture encounter. Avedon tells us that he diagnoses and reveals his subjects' essential nature, while Reynolds sees his role as one in which he helps his subjects to "properly see themselves for the first time." The correct response is (E).