Diatribe: Putting Underwear On Michelangelo’s David.
I’ve never understood why many people have so many hang ups when it comes to nudity. The human form is an amazing and beautiful creation and I think it’s awful that so many of us are taught, from an early age, to be ashamed or embarrassed of their bodies. Of course, it’s important to distinguish the difference between nudity and pornography. Nudity can be extremely artistic. However, as is the case with most anything else, there are appropriate times and places.
Apparently, some residents of the small Japanese town of Okuizumo don’t believe their public park is an appropriate place to display a sixteen-foot tall replica of Michelangelo’s David and they’ve suggested the addition of underpants to the naked masterpiece.
The statue, as well as a replica of the Greek treasure Venus de Milo, was erected suddenly last summer as a donation from a businessman in the area. The original David, created from Carrara marble during the years 1501-1504 has become one of the most recognized works of Renaissance sculpture … a symbol of both strength and youthful human beauty.
“Some people have told the town’s legislators that toddlers are afraid of the statues because they are so big and they appeared unexpectedly over the summer. They are statues of unclothed humans, and such pieces of art work are very rare in our area. Some people apparently said the statues might not be good for their children.” – Yoji Morinaga, Okuizumo Town Official
Cultural differences aside, I think it’s important to expose children to fine art and famous works. I’m hopeful that, over time, the Japanese people will come to appreciate the value of the sculptures, which could be useful in school art classes or may become a sightseeing attraction. While many locals have welcomed the new cultural additions to the mountainside town, others have asked that the statue wear underpants to preserve the subject’s modesty.
This wouldn’t be the first time that David’s delicate parts have been hidden from view. The plaster cast of the statue at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum has a detachable plaster fig leaf which is displayed nearby. The fig leaf was created in response to Queen Victoria’s shock upon first viewing the statue’s nudity and was routinely hung on the front of the figure before royal visits using two strategically placed hooks.
While I’m certainly not opposed to seeing a perfect male specimen in his underwear, Michelangelo’s David has been nude for more than five centuries and should stay that way. Moving the statue to another location where it could be appreciated rather than hiding parts of it would be a much better solution.
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