ACT reading practice test 29

DIRECTIONS: Each passage is followed by several questions. After reading a passage, choose the best answer to each question and fill in the corresponding oval on your answer document. You may refer to the passages as often as necessary.


Humanities

This passage is adapted from the article "The Trouble with Frida Kahlo" by Stephanie Mencimer, which appeared in Washington Monthly (©2002 Washington Monthly).

Never has a woman with a mustache been so revered,
or so marketed, as Frida Kahlo. Like a female Che
Guevara, she has become a cottage industry. Feminists
might celebrate Kahlo's ascent to greatness-
05if only her fame were related to her art. Instead, her
fans are largely drawn by the story of her life, for which
her paintings are often presented as simple illustration.
Fridamaniacs are inspired by Kahlo's tragic tale of
physical suffering-polio at six, grisly accident at 18-and
10fascinated with her glamorous friends and lovers.
But, like a game of telephone, the more Kahlo's story has
been told, the more it has been distorted, omitting
uncomfortable details that show her to be a far more
complex and flawed figure than the movies suggest. This
15elevation of the artist over the art diminishes the public
understanding of Kahlo's place in history and overshadows
the deeper and more disturbing truths in her work.
Until the 1970s there were almost no "great"
women artists. As the feminist movement gathered steam,
20women sought to rectify that problem. Historically, women's
limited opportunities meant there were few women
artists to begin with, and even fewer whose work had been
collected and could be definitively attributed to them.
Once scholars did identify significant women
25artists, they had to demonstrate that those artists
met the male standards for admission to the canon-i.e.,
they had to suffer and be mostly ignored during their
lifetimes. It was also helpful if the emerging female
artists were beautiful and had glamorous friends.
30Kahlo made a perfect candidate. As if her bodily
injuries weren't compelling enough, Kahlo's drama was
enhanced by what she referred to as the second accident
in her life: Diego Rivera, the famous Mexican muralist to
whom she was married for 25 years. Rivera was a notorious
35womanizer, a habit he did not abandon after marrying
Kahlo. Both Kahlo and Rivera were active in the Communist
Party and Mexican politics. Kahlo's paintings often
reflect her tumultuous relationship with Rivera, as well
as the anguish of her ever-deteriorating health.
40Between the time of her accident and her death,
Kahlo had more than 30 surgeries, and a gangrenous leg
was eventually amputated. She dramatized the pain in her
paintings, while carefully cultivating a self-image as a
heroic sufferer.
45While Kahlo's work never attracted the attention her
husband's did, it did win some critical acclaim. Eventually,
though, her failing health left her addicted to painkillers
and alcohol. She continued to paint, but the addiction
destroyed the controlled, delicate brushwork
50that had characterized her best work. In 1954, suffering
from pneumonia, Kahlo went to a Communist march.
Four days later, she died in what may or may not
have been a suicide.
If the focus of the art business must be on biography,
55that biography should at least include the artists' warts.
Many of Kahlo's surgeries may have been unnecessary.
She also made several suicide attempts and spent much
of her adult life addicted to drugs and alcohol. More
importantly, though, Kahlo's Communism, now treated
60as somehow sort of quaint, led her to embrace some
unforgivable political positions. Less scandalous but
worthnoting is that Kahlo despised the very gringos who
now champion her work, and her art reflects her obvious
disdain for the United States.
65Neglecting the dark side of the artist's narrative
deprives the public of a full appreciation of the art.
Without knowing that by 1953 Kahlo was so strung out
that she could barely pick up a paintbrush, how can the
public possibly know why some of her late work is so
70bad Which is the really tragic part of Kahlo's story.
Because when you sweep away the sideshow, ignore the
overwrought analysis, and take a hard look at what she
painted, much of it is extraordinary. Her paintings tap into
sex and violence, life and death, in original and profound
75ways. So while women might celebrate Kahlo's success, it
may be that real progress has come when a woman can be
remembered both as a great artist and as a despicable cur.

1. The author implies that Kahlo is famous primarily because of her:

A. exceptionally liberal paintings.
B. dramatic life full of intrigue and suffering.
C. marriage to Diego Rivera.
D. being one of the first female artists.

2. Frida Kahlo's story was compared to a game of telephone (line 11) because:

F. just like a message passed over the phone, the details of her life have been told accurately.
G. people are purposely leaving out important pieces of her history.
H. her story has been passed on verbally from person to person.
J. over time the story has become distorted and parts have been omitted.

3. The author states that all of the following contributed to the lack of great female artists prior to 1970 EXCEPT:

A. the scarce number of female artists.
B. scholars' difficulty identifying great female artists.
C. the high standards for admission to the canon.
D. the small amount of female artists' works that had been collected.

4. The author's tone in this passage can best be described as:

F. persuasive.
G. informative.
H. sarcastic.
J. humorous.

5. Based on the information presented in the passage, the quality of Kahlo's painting began to decline because of:

A. her injuries.
B. catching pneumonia.
C. her addiction to painkillers and alcohol.
D. her tumultuous marriage to Rivera.

6. In the context of lines 54-64, the phrase "the artists' warts" (line 55) most nearly means:

F. Kahlo's poorer paintings.
G. the imperfections in Kahlo's appearance.
H. Kahlo's highest achievements.
J. the less pleasant parts of Kahlo's life.

7. According to the passage, all of the following are true about Kahlo's paintings EXCEPT:

A. they reflect her complicated relationship with Rivera.
B. they dramatized the pain from her surgeries.
C. they were all forms of self-portraits.
D. they portray concepts in unique and profound ways.

8. The author's purpose in writing this passage can best be summarized as:

F. to discuss how the movies and Fridamaniacs are distorting the story of Kahlo's life.
G. to convince women to embrace both the dark and light side of Kahlo's life when choosing to celebrate her success.
H. to provide hidden details of Kahlo's life, hoping that people will realize she is not worthy of such high acclaim.
J. to explain why some of Kahlo's later work is so bad.

9. What would the author probably say is the most tragic thing about Kahlo's story?

A. That Rivera remained unfaithful even after their marriage
B. That Kahlo died so young, and wasn't able to create more paintings
C. The grisly accident when she was 18
D. That people don't realize how extraordinary her work is because they are more caught up in the sordid details of her life

10. What is the sideshow the author refers to in line 71?

F. The dramatic details of Kahlo's life
G. The critical acclaim Kahlo has received
H. The Fridamaniacs who idolize Kahlo
J. Kahlo's addictions