Guns

Michelangelo's David Used to Sell Amyl Nitrite Poppers, Underwear, Jeans? OK. Guns? No Way!

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Over at Bloomberg View, Virginia Postrel has a great piece up about reactions to gun maker ArmaLite's use of Michelangelo's David to sell its firearms. 

The advertisement image of an armed David offends and violates the law,"tweeted tourism minister Dario Franceschini. Angel Tartuferi, director of the Accademia Gallery, which houses the sculpture, agreed: "The law says that the aesthetic value of the work cannot be altered."

Postrel notes that Italian officials are selective in their outrage:

This moral posturing is clearly about something other than respect for the sculpture's "aesthetic value" or "cultural dignity." Otherwise, officials would crack down on the David boxer shorts sold by countless Florentine vendors. And where was the outrage in 1981, when the David was flogging Rush brand poppers, amyl nitrite drugs used to enhance sexual pleasure, in magazines aimed at gay men?

The former Reason editor in chief (online archive here) drives home the point that giving David a gun is fully in keeping with the original reason Florentine patrons were shelling out money for statues of a guy known for taking an adversary much, much bigger than he was. 

They commissioned statues of David because he was a martial hero who had felled an intimidating foe. They made him a beautiful nude to emphasize his heroism, not to disguise his bloody deed. (Donatello's David has his boot triumphantly on Goliath's severed head.) Michelangelo's giant was meant as an inspiration to locals and a warning to would-be invaders. He wasn't an underwear model. He was a Minuteman. Putting a gun in his hand may look weird, but it's a lot truer to his original meaning than a souvenir apron.

Read the whole thing here.

Follow Postrel on Twitter.

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  1. Reason was a whole lot better when Virginia Postrel was editor.

  2. This is my rifle,this is my gun.

  3. You think Davy is compensating for something?

  4. That thing is one remote shy of being over-accessorized.

  5. On point: No-one uses David as an example of fine art anymore; he’s a symbol of pop art parody. Posters dress him up with an object of choice and people are more drawn to it than a generic nude brother because, hey, it’s David. A sleepwalking brother in boxers at Wellesley is offensive, but David’s nudity is just fine, so long as it’s made fun of.

    Off point: I posed nude for a sculptor in grad school. I found the dude’s website online a few weeks ago; apparently you can order sculptures based off the molds he creates, including the one he did of me (he calls it “Lightning”). I’ve been thinking about ordering a nude sculpture of myself. It’s a 1/3 scale sculpture, which would make it just under two feet tall. It’s a bit spendy – several hundred for plaster up to three thousand for brass – but I think it’d be a fun piece to put in my living room and see if anyone notices the likeness.

    1. You should call it “Mini Me”.

  6. “The advertisement image of an armed David offends and violates the law,”tweeted tourism minister Dario Franceschini. Angel Tartuferi, director of the Accademia Gallery, which houses the sculpture, agreed: “The law says that the aesthetic value of the work cannot be altered.”

    Never mind the politics, just from a pure art standpoint, didn’t Warhol dispense with this silliness by mass producing the Mona Lisa ages ago?

  7. “Violates the law”? WTF law are Franceschini and Tartuferi talking about? Do these dimwits realize that Armalite is not an Italian company and the ad was not published in Italy?

    “Angello Tartuferi, director of the gallery where the statue is on display, claimed that Italy owned the copyright to David.” Copyright…to a statue created OVER FIVE HUNDRED YEARS AGO? These guys are worse than Disney.

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