Michelangelo’s David has run into trouble again. The sculptural Renaissance masterpiece was pulled from an advertisement made for the subway rail system in Glasgow, Scotland, due to nudity. The incident recalls the recent row in Florida when parents of students at a conservative charter school complained about the statue’s inclusion in the curriculum.
DRG Group, which runs Barolo restaurant, featured David on a poster which depicts the sculpture eating a slice of pizza with the tag line: “It doesn’t get more Italian.” But the firm Global, which manages the advertising space on the subway, initially rejected the image.
The poster was then revised, incorporating stickers of the Italian flag which covered the crotch area. "We got stickers made and the feedback was that they weren't actually big enough,” Nadine Carmichael, head of sales and marketing at the DRG Group, told the BBC. "Our next port of call was to show Michelangelo from the waist-up. We got there in the end."
Mario Gizzi, director of the DRG Group, which runs Barolo, told The Times: “This is a globally recognised piece of art. It is taught in schools. People from all over the world travel to see it. It’s not the 1500s anymore, it’s 2023. Are we really saying that the people of Glasgow can’t handle seeing a naked statue?” Global had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.
David was at the centre of a culture war in Florida after Hope Carrasquilla, the principal of Tallahassee Classical School, was ousted by the school board when three parents of students complained about the statue, with one parent stating her child “should not be viewing those pieces”.
Jeff Kottkamp, the school’s general counsel, told The Art Newspaper: “The controversy was never about the art. It was about following the school's policy of notifying parents anytime a topic that could be viewed as sensitive is being discussed in class.”
But Cecilie Hollberg, the director of the Accademia Gallery in Florence, said: “As director of one of the most important museums in the world, precisely because of the sculpture of Michelangelo's David—a Renaissance masterpiece, an icon of sculpture—I am surprised by the ignorance that seems to be at the heart of what happened in Florida.”