Putting it together and finishing the hat? Deconstructing the art of making art

Dominic Symonds

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Sunday in the Park with George dramatises the life and work of Georges Seurat, inventor of pointillism. This neo-impressionist style of painting constructs the image out of tiny pixels of different coloured paint, a technique that Sondheim's musical was to portray both mimetically and stylistically. In doing this, Sondheim constructs a rhetoric of composition that consolidates conventional wisdom on how art is created: the artist starts with nothing and creates something. The musical is littered with references to this, not least in the titles of two of its most celebrated numbers, 'Putting it together' and 'Finishing the hat'. However, Sondheim's show offers more complexity than this, and its culmination in the whiteness of 'a blank page or canvas' asks us to reconsider this rhetoric. This article deconstructs the rhetoric of composition, asking whether the 'putting together' of dots or notes actually serves to reveal meaning, or whether it obscures, paints over or drowns out what is beyond the dots.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)101-112
    Number of pages12
    JournalContemporary Theatre Review
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    Dive into the research topics of 'Putting it together and finishing the hat? Deconstructing the art of making art'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this