A US school recently caused international uproar for pressuring its principal to resign after Michelangelo’s (1475-1564) David was shown in a sixth-grade art lesson. The Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence and mayor of the city have now invited the school to visit the iconic statue in person to try to resolve the puzzling issue.
It all began when several parents complained that Tallahassee Classical School in Florida had displayed “pornographic” images to children without their consent. Barney Bishop, chairman of the school board, said that not giving the parents a warning that “their child is being taught a controversial topic and picture” was an “egregious mistake” on behalf of the principal Hope Carrasquilla.
The supposedly controversial image was in fact one of the most famous sculptures in the world – the 17-foot nude marble statue of the biblical David, armed only with a sling and his faith in God to fight Goliath. The renowned Italian artist Michelangelo created the masterpiece between 1501 and 1504. David was unveiled outside the Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of civic government in the Republic of Florence, and swiftly became a symbol of the defence of civil liberties.
Since 1873, the statue has been displayed in the Galleria dell’Accademia. The museum’s director, Cecilie Hollberg, was “astonished” by the incident, stating “I cannot believe that actually happened, at first I thought it was fake news, so improbable and absurd was it.“
“A distinction must be made between nudity and pornography,” asserted Hollberg. “To think that David could be pornographic means truly not understanding the contents of the Bible, not understanding western culture and not understanding Renaissance art.”
Florentines and art aficionados across the globe were also baffled by the American school’s actions. The Florentine art historian and dean of the University for Foreigners in Siena, Tomaso Montanari, commented “from a cultural perspective, the Western world has a tendency to associate fundamentalism and censorship with other societies, believing it possesses the capability to spread democratic ideals worldwide. But this cultural backsliding clearly highlights the presence of fundamentalist views within the West as well.“
The mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, tweeted “mistaking art for pornography is just ridiculous” and that he intends to invite Carasquilla to Florence in recognition of her work. Responding to the invitation, Carasquilla remarked “I am totally, like, wow, I’ve been to Florence before and have seen the David up close and in person, but I would love to go and be a guest of the mayor.”