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Writing and Language

Question 18 of 22

beginning of content:


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Expression of Ideas


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Command of Evidence


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Passage Content

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Questions 12-22 are based on the following passage.

Dong Kingman: Painter of Cities

A 1954 documentary about renowned watercolor painter Dong Kingman shows the artist sitting on a stool on Mott Street in New York City’s Chinatown. A crowd of admiring spectators 12 watched as Kingman squeezes dollops of paint from several tubes into a tin watercolor 13 box, from just a few primary colors, Kingman creates dozens of beautiful hues as he layers the translucent paint onto the paper on his easel. Each stroke of the brush and dab of the sponge transforms thinly sketched outlines into buildings, shop signs, and streetlamps. The street scene Kingman begins composing in this short film is very much in keeping with the urban landscapes for which he is best known.

[1] Kingman was keenly interested in landscape painting from an early age. [2] In Hong Kong, where Kingman completed his schooling, teachers at that time customarily assigned students a formal “school name.” [3] His interest was so keen, in fact, that he was named after it. [4] The young boy who had been Dong Moy Shu became Dong Kingman. [5] The name Kingman was selected for its two 14 parts, “king” and “man”; Cantonese for “scenery” and “composition.” [6] As Kingman developed as a painter, his works were often compared to 15 paintings by Chinese landscape artists dating back to CE 960, a time when a strong tradition of landscape painting emerged in Chinese art. [7] Kingman, however, 16 vacated from that tradition in a number of ways, most notably in that he chose to focus not on natural landscapes, such as mountains and rivers, but on cities. 17

18 His fine brushwork conveys detailed street-level activity: a peanut vendor pushing his cart on the sidewalk, a pigeon pecking for crumbs around a fire 19 hydrant, an old man tending to a baby outside a doorway. His broader brush strokes and sponge-painted shapes create majestic city skylines, with skyscrapers towering in the background, bridges connecting neighborhoods on either side of a river, and 20 delicately painted creatures, such as a tiny, barely visible cat prowling in the bushes of a park. To art critics and fans alike, these city scenes represent the innovative spirit of twentieth-century urban Modernism.

During his career, Kingman exhibited his work 21 internationally. He garnered much acclaim. In 1936, a critic described one of Kingman’s solo exhibits as “twenty of the freshest, most satisfying watercolors that have been seen hereabouts in many a day.” 22


Select an Answer

Which choice most effectively establishes the main topic of the paragraph? 

Kingman is considered a pioneer of the California Style school of painting.

Correct Answer: 

Although cities were his main subject, Kingman did occasionally paint natural landscapes.

Correct Answer: 

In his urban landscapes, Kingman captures the vibrancy of crowded cities.

Correct Answer: 

In 1929 Kingman moved to Oakland, California, where he attended the Fox Art School.

Correct Answer: 

Choice C is the best answer because it clearly establishes the main topic of the paragraph: Kingman’s urban landscapes.

Choice A is not the best answer because it would begin the paragraph with a loosely related detail about Kingman’s painting style and would not clearly establish the main topic of the paragraph.

Choice B is not the best answer because it would suggest that the main topic of the paragraph is the natural landscapes Kingman occasionally painted, which is incorrect given the focus of the rest of the sentences in the paragraph.

Choice D is not the best answer because it would begin the paragraph with a loosely related detail about Kingman’s life and would not clearly establish the main topic of the paragraph.

Question Difficulty: 
Passage Complexity: 

Students must determine which sentence best signals the main topic of a paragraph.