Do you like modern or traditional art? Why do some people dislike art? What’s art? Would it be interesting for you to be an artist? What artwork would you like to have in your house?
  • Distinction (noun) - a difference between two similar things.
  • Concept (noun) - an idea, theory, etc. about a particular subject.
  • Symmetry (noun) - the quality of having parts on either side or half that match each other, esp. in an attractive way, or are the same size or shape.
  • Artwork (noun) - an object made by an artist, esp. a picture or statue.
  • Off-putting (adj.) - slightly unpleasant or worrying so that you do not want to get involved in any way.
  • To capture (verb) - to represent or describe something very accurately using words or images.
  • Engaging (adj.) - pleasant, attractive, and charming.
  • Doodle (noun) - a picture or pattern that someone has drawn while thinking about something else or when they are bored.
  • Bare (adj.) - not covered by anything.
  • Indigenous (adj.) - not foreign or from outside an area.
  • Abstract (adj.) - existing as an idea, feeling, or quality, not as a material object.
  • Landscape (noun) - a large area of land, especially in relation to its appearance.
  • To complement (verb) - to make something else seem better or more attractive when combining with it.
  • Décor (noun) - the choice of colour, style of furniture, and arrangement of objects in a room.
Get exclusive episodes on IELTS Speaking parts 1, 2, and 3
Get exclusive episodes on IELTS Speaking parts 1, 2, and 3
Questions and answers
M: Do you like modern or traditional art?

R: I'm not sure where you're drawing the distinction, if you'll pardon the pun. But, I suppose, I prefer both for different reasons. Modern art is more relatable to my life because I'm a modern person. But traditional art appeals to higher, more universal concepts, at least in my opinion.

M: Why do some people dislike art?

R: Well, I doubt they dislike it in general. I suppose, they probably just like a specific form that isn't to their taste. For example, like biologically, we're supposed to be attracted to symmetry and symmetrical faces. So artwork that's not like that might be a bit off-putting.

M: What's art?

R: Well, that's not a difficult question at all, is it? I suppose if I'm pushed, then I would say that art is the attempt to capture or represent something that the artist finds engaging or beautiful. So, for example, the Mona Lisa is Da Vinci's attempt to capture the moment with this woman and the mystery that surrounds it, in my opinion.

M: Would it be interesting for you to be an artist?

R: If you mean, someone who makes paintings and does drawings for a living, then... Well, I would certainly be impressed. Although, I'm awful at both and I doubt my doodles would be worth much, to be honest with you. And I doubt most people would benefit from it, though. I'm much better off as a teacher.

M: What artwork would you like to have in your house?

R: Well, at this stage anything would be good for my bare walls, to be honest. I've collected a lot of indigenous and abstract art over the years. In addition to more traditional landscapes that would look good. I just haven't got around to hanging them up yet, I suppose. But I think they would complement the décor nicely. It's just a shame I'm not going to be living where I am for much longer.

M: Thank you, Rory, for your answers!

R: Very arty.
M: So what's modern art?

R: What is modern art?

M: Modern art includes artistic work produced during the period from the 1860s to the 1970s. So, for example, Van Gogh, you know, Van Gogh, the sunflowers, is considered to be modern art. But what do you call art that is produced these days?

R: Oh, is it going to be something like postmodern art then? Because it's after the modern period?

M: Yes. Postmodern art or contemporary art.

R: Well, I don't understand. Is modern and postmodern art, is it just about a time period? It's nothing to do with a style then?

M: No, no, no. It's about the time period. So art today, we can call it contemporary art. Post-modern art, but modern art, it's not the art that is produced right now. It's just like Van Gogh, the 1860s, 1970s.

R: I learned something new then. Like, I thought modern art was just modern art about now and traditional art was about things in the past. Or things that are more universal.

M: And actually, I think the question is a bit strange because traditional art, what's traditional art? It's theatre, poetry, sculpture, drawing, painting, architecture, cinema. So that's traditional art.

R: Yes. But again, I just think of like modern now, traditional in the past. Or at least strongly connected to the past, whereas modern is strongly connected to now. So there you go, I was wrong, but I still used high-level vocabulary. Can we please talk about the high-level vocabulary?

M: You said that modern art is relatable to my life?

R: Yeah. It's got a connection to my life. Or at least I thought it did. Now I'm thinking that maybe contemporary art has this connection. Sorry, I didn't do well art in school.

M: And then Rory said that traditional art makes connections. So to make connections. Makes connections to something more universal. For example, like traditional art makes connections to universal concepts. Like love, beauty, the meaning of life.

R: Yeah, that's how I would define it. And, I suppose, even though I got it wrong and I was factually incorrect, the fact that the grammar and vocabulary is high-level means that you'll still get a high score. So take that. Also, how many art teachers are IELTS examiners? Probably not many. And if you are, then you're in the wrong line of work, I suppose. Can we talk about the pun? I made a pun.

M: Oh, you made a pun! Did you notice it?

R: I did. I made a pun. Did you notice the pun?

M: You are drawing the distinction. We're talking about art. And drawing is one of the art forms. So draw the distinction, tell the difference.
R: And if you want, you don't just need to use that for talking about art. It won't be a pun, but it will still be useful. If the examiner asks like, do you prefer blah or blah? And if they're very close concepts, then you can say, I don't know where you're drawing the distinction, but I would say and then say what you would prefer. For example, Maria, can you ask me a question with two possible answers?

M: Do you prefer art galleries or museums?

R: I'm not sure where you're drawing the distinction. Because you can get art museums as well, but I suppose, I prefer museums because I'm into history.

M: Do you prefer bananas or raisins?

R: That is not... No, no, no. no. We're not answering that question. They should both be confined to wherever terrible things go.

M: Yeah, Rory doesn't like bananas.

R: No. Does anyone like bananas? Seriously?

M: I love bananas. They're yellow. They're yum, yum, yum. Nice and... And banana bread, banana desserts.

R: But on the other hand, they're evil.

M: So, dear listener, fine arts. If you want some examples of fine arts. So drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, cinema, music, theatre. Also, you can talk about literature, visual arts, like painting, drawing, sculpture. Graphic arts, like painting, drawing design. And also digital art. Digital art is also art. So digital produced by artificial intelligence. And Rory did you know that this year, 2023 is the year of artistic risks? It's the year of computer-generated art. So, dear listener, you can talk about computer-generated art.

R: Or AI-created art.

M: You said that a specific form of art isn't to their taste. So if something is not to my taste, I dislike it. It's not to my taste.

R: Yeah, it just doesn't appeal to you. For example, I'm trying to think of, like, an art form. Most postmodern art does not... Does not appeal to my tastes or not to my taste. Because it's just random stuff or it looks like random stuff.

M: Or modern sculpture.

R: What? You don't like sculptures? Oh, no, they're cool. I don't know where I would put them in my home, but they're cool.

M: No, just an example. Modern sculpture isn't to my taste, so I dislike like it, I don't like it. Or if you really dislike it, you can say I can't stand modern art. Again, modern art from the 1860s to 1970s. Contemporary art is the art of today. And Rory said that people are drawn to symmetrical faces.
R: It's another pun!

M: Yeah.

R: I swear, I didn't plan that.

M: Of course, you didn't.

R: I didn't.

M: Rory, did you know that there aren't any symmetrical faces? Our faces are not symmetrical. So, like, one side is kind of organised in one way and another side is different. So we don't have symmetrical faces. No, it's a myth.

R: Not completely symmetrical faces, no. But most of the time your features line up. Like your eyes are roughly on the same level and your nose is in line with the eyes. Yes, of course, your face is not completely symmetrical. I mean, look at mine. My hair is parted to one side, for example. And also I have a lazy eye. I probably shouldn't draw people's attention to this right now. But yes, I do have one eye slightly more closed than the other.

M: Really?

R: That's not what a lazy eye is, actually. But I have a problem with one of my eyelids.

M: Wow. Interesting.

R: And now I've mentioned it, everybody is going to know.

M: And asymmetrical features might be off-putting. So if something is off-putting, it's like I don't like it, it's not attractive, it's not appealing for me. It's offputting.

R: Yeah. An example of asymmetry would be like if one... If we split my face in half and one side was slightly lower than the other, Vanya is going to have a great time drawing or editing the video to show this. That would be asymmetrical.

M: And then Rory defined art. What's art? Could you give a definition of art?

R: I love this question like, what is art? Alright. Hmm? What is... What is beauty? What is... What is life?

M: And here we use a strategy. We react to the question. Oh, wow, That's a difficult one, that's a difficult question. And then our favourite strategy. If I'm pushed. If you push me to answer this question, I'd say that... So if I'm pushed, I would say that art is... And Rory's answer is actually quite cool. Art is the attempt to capture, to capture the moment, to kind of capture, to take the moment, right? Capture the moment. And the artist finds something engaging. So a person who makes art is an artist. Engaging, exciting, interesting, attractive, to capture something beautiful, yeah? Rory used an example of Mona Lisa, Da Vinci.

R: Yes, It's like what? The most famous painting in the world, probably? Or one of them.
M: We make paintings and we can say we make drawings. Or Rory told us do drawings. So that's also possible. So drawings. So we make paintings, do drawings. Another one is masterpieces. So we create masterpieces.

R: Oh, that's a good word, yeah.

M: So I can make paintings for a living. Artists make paintings for a living. To do something for a living, like you do something and you earn your living, you earn your money. So we do this podcast for a living. Dear listener, you can say that I wouldn't like to be an artist and I wouldn't like to create art for a living. So art is not up my street.

R: Would you like to create art for a living? You'd be quite good at that.

M: Yeah, I can do, you know, art painting with my body. I would just pour all different paints on my body and I would just, you know, like I would paint with my body. I think that would be really cool.

R: That's quite a mental image. You've, you... Yes. Very visual.

M: Can you imagine?

R: No, I'm doing my level best not to imagine, to be honest with you.

M: Yes, dear listener, can you imagine?

R: Now I've gone bright red. Next question?

M: Yes. Doodles, tell us what doodles mean.

R: I don't need to tell you what doodles mean, because if you go to my Instagram, you will see all of the doodles that I have created in boring teams meetings where I wasn't paying attention to what people are saying. But if any event you don't want to go to my Instagram, then doodles are... They're like small pictures that you draw and they're not created for the purpose of making art. They're created for the purpose of relieving boredom or aiding a thought process. They're not classically beautiful. They are usually very small. They don't have a lot of effort put into them. Doodles.

M: Rory, you also said that I'm better off as a teacher.

R: Yeah.
M: So I earn more money as a teacher.

R: Well, it could be to do with making money, but it's also just to do with how your quality of life is. If you're better off doing something, then it's just a better idea or a better solution.

M: Artwork. So we have art in our house, we have artwork, we have different art forms in our house. You told us that you've collected a lot of indigenous and abstract arts. So what's indigenous art?

R: Well, indigenous art is just created by the people that have lived in a place for an extremely long time. Like they have this strong connection to the place.

M: Yeah, so indigenous. If, for example, we talk about Mexico, we can say like indigenous language of Mexico. So indigenous relating to people or language or place.

R: For a really long time. Like deciding what is indigenous is really difficult, but it's like... It's to do with living or being considered from a place or having a strong connection to it and lived there for a long time. It's difficult to say with any exactitude. Because of course everybody, human beings move around and there's various histories of deportations and ethnic violence which we will not get into on this language podcast about art.

M: And if I have a bare wall, I haven't got around to hanging any drawings or pictures here. So to get around to doing something, right? So a bare wall. I just have some paintings, but I haven't got around to hanging them up. And your painting or drawing could compliment the décor. How do you pronounce this word? The decor.

R: Well, a decor or décor. You can say both and it's okay. But the decor or the décor is just how the house is decorated. And if we talk about... What was the other thing? Oh, complement. Complement just means matches up or enhances something. So, for example, you and I compliment each other not because we say nice things, but because we work well together. Or blue and white colours usually work well together.

M: And Rory, I have a joke for you about art.

R: Oh, of course, you do. What is the joke? We should start calling new jokes as modern art.

R: Why?

M: Like modern art, if no one is getting it, it's a hit. Did you get it? Kind of like we call new jokes, new jokes that we crack modern art. Because usually people don't understand modern art. And if nobody understands it, it's a hit. So if no one understands a joke, it's a hit.

R: Okay. I think it's time we hit the exit button on this episode. Bye!

Get exclusive episodes on IELTS Speaking parts 1, 2, and 3
Get exclusive episodes on IELTS Speaking parts 1, 2, and 3
Did you like this episode?
Make sure to subscribe to our social media to see some of the “behind the scenes” stuff!

Our Instagram:
Our Telegram:
You can support us by donating as little as $5
Energy drinks, protein bars, and YOUR help make this podcast possible!
Show more
Study with us