Word + Quiz: basal

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Word + Quiz: basal

1. serving as or forming a base

2. of primary importance

3. especially of leaves; located at the base of a plant or stem; especially arising directly from the root or rootstock or a root-like stem

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The word basal has appeared in eight articles on NYTimes.com in the past year, including on Nov. 11 in “Ultra-Black Is the New Black” by Natalie Angier:

For artists, black is basal and nonnegotiable, the source of shadow, line, volume, perspective and mood. “There is a black which is old and a black which is fresh,” Ad Reinhardt, the abstract expressionist artist, said. “Lustrous black and dull black, black in sunlight and black in shadow.”

So essential is black to any aesthetic act that, as David Scott Kastan and Stephen Farthing describe in their scholarly yet highly entertaining book, “On Color,” modern artists have long squabbled over who pioneered the ultimate visual distillation: the all-black painting.

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