During the nineteenth century, the French academy of art was a major financial sponsor of painting and sculpture in F...

Taina on May 30 at 08:22AM

Paradox questions

With paradox questions I’m having trouble understanding what I should be looking in the correct answer, when approaching the types of questions.

1 Reply

Ravi on May 31 at 06:42PM

@tainadiaz,

Great question. In general, paradox questions deal with a phenomenon
that seems perplexing at first. In being tasked to resolve the
paradox, we're being asked to choose an answer that, if true, makes
the paradox in question make sense. Let's take a look at this
question.

From the stimulus, we know that the French academy was a major
financial sponsor for artists in 19th century France. At this time,
private sponsorship had decreased a lot. The academy discouraged
innovation, but oddly enough, there was a lot of innovation in
painting, but very little in sculpture. This is really weird and
interesting.

We're supposed to resolve this paradox. Perhaps painting and sculpture
are really different? Maybe paintings were cheaper and required less
support, or perhaps painters could conceal their innovations more
easily. We need an answer that helps explain this.

(A) says, "In France in the nineteenth century, the French academy
gave more of its financial support to painting than it did to
sculpture."

(A) actually worsens the paradox. We know the academy discouraged
innovation, so if they were funding painting aggressively, how was
there substantial innovation in painting?

(B) says, "The French academy in the nineteenth century financially
supported a greater number of sculptors than painters, but individual
painters received more support, on average, than individual
sculptors."

There could have been more sculptors in France than painters, so (B)
doesn't help us resolve the paradox. Additionally, if painters
received more support per capita, then how could they be so
innovative?

(C) says, "Because stone was so much more expensive than paint and
canvas, far more unsponsored paintings were produced than were
unsponsored sculptures in France during the nineteenth century."

With (C), we know that painting was much cheaper and that many
painters could fund their own paintings, enabling them not to rely on
the academy. (C) explains how there was so much more innovation in
painting, even though the academy eschewed innovation in painting and
sculpture. This resolves the paradox, so it's the correct answer
choice.

(D) says, "Very few of the artists in France in the nineteenth century
who produced sculptures also produced paintings."

(D) tells us that the paintings and sculptures were largely produced
by different people, but this doesn't help to explain why paintings
were so much more innovative than sculptures during this time. (D) is
out.

(E) says, "Although the academy was the primary sponsor of sculpture
and painting, the total amount of financial support that French
sculptors and painters received from sponsors declined during the
nineteenth century."

We know from the stimulus that the academy was the primary sponsor. If
the support that sculptors and painters from the academy decreased in
the 19th century, this doesn't help to explain why paintings were far
more innovative than the sculptures. (E) does nothing to help us
resolve the paradox, so it's out.

Hope this helps. Let us know if you have any more questions!