Monday, June 15, 2009

Sunday In The Museum Next To The Park With George

Sunday In The Museum Next To The Park With George

Regular readers will recall how much I thoroughly enjoyed the stunning 2008 Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Sunday In The Park With George.

The inspiration, of course, for that lovely musical was neo-impressionist painter Georges-Pierre Seurat's pointillistic "Sunday on La Grande Jatte."

Yesterday, during a quick weekend visit to the Windy City, I decided to visit The Art Institute of Chicago, which recently opened a magnificent new Modern Wing. As much as I enjoyed soaking in all the new works, I found myself much more drawn to the museum's extensive Impressionists section, including the works of Gustave Caillebotte, Mary Cassatt, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent van Gogh and Edouard Vuillard.

I stood in awe as I admired all their inspired works. But it was the painting positioned smack dab in the middle of that second floor section that made me stop dead in my tracks. Georges Seurat's "Sunday on La Grande Jatte" (or "big platter") just screams out for closer scrutiny after first witnessing it upon one's entrance on the other side of the room where it's housed. As I moved closer to the immense canvas, it was truly difficult not to conjure up images of Seurat (à la Mandy Patinkin or Daniel Evans) and his painstaking resolution in getting each individual dot perfectly positioned to create the illusion of complete forms.

It must have been at least 15 years since I last laid eyes on that mesmerizing work of art. However, I certainly had not appreciated the discipline or determination that Seurat must have had until now. Fortunately, in the intervening years since last seeing the painting, I saw Sunday In The Park With George, first the original on DVD and then the Broadway revival. So standing there, carefully examining Dot and her hat, I couldn't help but think of the lyric of that song, "Putting It Together" and simply marvel that "art isn't easy."

Thanks to the genius of Sondheim and Lapine, I gained a greater appreciation for just how ingenious Seurat himself was. Talk about the magic of live theatre and its transcendent reach into all aspects of our lives. Even a Sunday afternoon in the museum next to Millennium Park, by George!

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 15 June, 2009, Blogger Esther said...

Oh, I love going to museums. This will be on my list along with Steppenwolf and the Billy Goat Tavern when I visit Chicago someday! And how great that one work of art gave you a deeper insight into another work of art!

At 15 June, 2009, Blogger Chris Caggiano said...

With all due respect to Seurat's masterwork, my favorite part of the AIC is Marc Chagall's stained glass windows.

Simply breathtaking. They make me cry.

At 16 June, 2009, Blogger Joseph Gomez said...

I can't wait to someday visit the museum and see this piece of art in person. I too saw the original show on DVD and the subsequent revival live and can attest to the transcendent power of Sondheim and Lapine's work. SUNDAY is one of my favorite shows and simply astounds me at how much it has actually helped develop my appreciation for the arts and the artists that make them.

PS I let out a big welp of excitement during the credits of Wall-E when they showed impressionistic paintings from Seurat. Made so much thematic sense and improved upon an already masterpiece of a movie.

At 16 June, 2009, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Ah yes, Chris. But Chagall's windows didn't afford me the opportunity to connect my piece to live theatre.


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