The State of the Art

I was just listening to this and felt a need to share it. The song is Putting it Together from Sunday in the Park with George.

As usual Sondheim has created an entire world inside a song. I have never heard a summary of the modern art world quite like this. It has managed to capture the plight of artists gaining inspiration, finances, fans and trying to create something new. it also simultaneously shows the public’s reactions, other artist’s opinions and backers being backers. I have heavily abbrieviated this post as I looked at it and it is HUGE! I urge you to watch this musical or listen to it. it is wonderful.

The lyrics Here are abbrieviated to Just George. this is a huge song with many backers and a lot of action that does not convey well on paper. If you dont know what is happening, This is the beginning of act 2, it is set in the 80s and the descendant of Georges Seurat is unveiling his latest installation. what makes this so great is that he seems to be endearingly uncertain of his works and the process of gaining success.

I love Sondheim!

Full Libretto for Sunday in the Park with George

12. PUTTING IT TOGETHER (abbrieviated)

1984. The museum where Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jette” is on exhibition. George demonstrates his Chromolume # 7. The scene then changes to a cocktail reception in progress in the gallery where the painting is displayed.

(George makes a grand entrance with Marie, who is in a wheelchair. and Elaine.)


(to himself)

All right, George.

As long as it’s your night, George…

You know what’s in the room, George.

Another Chromolume, George.

It’s time to get to work…


Say “cheese;’ George,

And put them et their ease George.

You’re up on the trapeze, George.

Machines don’t grow on trees, George.

Start putting it together…

Advancing art is easy-

(to Billy, facing audience)


(to audience)

Financing it is not.

A vision’s just a vision

If it’s only in your head.

If no one gets to see it,

It’s as good as dead.

If has to come to light!

I put the names of my contributors on the side of each machine.


Bit by bit,

Putting it together…

Piece by Piece-

Only way to make a work of art.

Every moment makes a contribution,

Every little detail plays a part.

Having just a vision’s no solution,

Everything depends on execution:

Putting it together-

That’s what counts!


Small amounts,

Adding up to make a work of art.

First of all you need a good foundation,

Otherwise it’s risky from the start.

Takes a little cocktail conversation,

But without the proper preparation,

Having just a vision’s no solution,

Everything depends on execution.

The art of making art

Is putting it together

Bit by bit…


(raising another cutout)

Link by link,

Making the connections…

Drink by drink

Fixing and perfecting the design.

Adding just a dab of politician

(Always knowing where to draw the line).

Lining up the funds but in addition

Lining up a prominent commission,

Otherwise your perfect composition

Isn’t going to get much exhibition.

Art isn’t easy.

Every minor detail

Is a major decision,

Have to keep things in scale,

Have to hold to your vision-

Every time I start to feel defensive,

I remember lasers are expensive.

What’s a little cocktail conversation

If it gets the funds for your foundation,

Leading to a prominent commission,

And an exhibition in addition?


(gestures for another cutout, which rises)

Dot by dot,

Building up the image.

Shot by shot,

Keeping at a distance doesn’t pay.

Still, if you remember your objective,

Not give all your privacy away,

A little bit of hype can be effective,

Long as you can keep it in perspective.

After all, without some recognition

No one’s going to give you a commission.

Art isn’t easy.

(raising a fourth cutout)

Overnight you’re a trend,

You’re the right combination-

Then the trend’s at an end,

You’re suddenly last year’s sensation.

If you feel a sense of coalition,

Then you never really stand alone.

If you want your work to reach fruition,

What you need’s a link with your tradition,

And of course a prominent commission,

Plus a little formal recognition,

So that you can go on exhibit-

(getting flustered)

So that your work can go on exhibition-


Be new, George.

They tell you till they’re blue, George:

You’re new or else you’re through, George,

And even if it’s true, George-

You do what you can do…

Bit by bit,

Putting it together.

Piece by piece.

Working out the vision night and day.

All it takes is time and perseverance,

With a little luck along the way,

Putting in a personal appearance,

Gathering supporters and adherents…


Mapping out the right configuration,

Starting with a suitable foundation…


Lining up a prominent commission-

And an exhibition in addition-

Here a little dab of politician-

There a little touch of publication-

Till you have a balanced composition-

Everything depends on preparation-

Even if you do have the suspicion

That it’s taking all your concentration-


(except George)

The art of making art That is the state of the art,

Is putting it together- And art isn’t easy…

Bit by bit-

Link by link-

Drink by drink-

Mink by mink-

And that And that

Is the state Is the state

Of the Of the

Art! Art!

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