David Denies

About nine years ago or so (Lord, has it really been that long?) Paul and I got an opportunity to go visit Italy. It remains, to this day, the best trip of my life and one of the high points. We visited Pisa, Tuscany, Venice and Florence. I fell in love with Italy and once there, understood why the Renaissance happened there–the colors, the light, the beauty, everywhere you looked; I’ve never been anywhere so gorgeous and scenic in my life (and yes, I do include Hawaii in that; Hawaii was also gorgeous and scenic but in an entirely different way). And of course, we went to the Accademia della Galleria in Florence so we could view Michelangelo’s crowning achievement, the magnificent David.

To say that I was awestruck is a vast understatement.

I was also not prepared for its sheer size. Having only seen photographs before, I’d assumed it was larger than life but not that much larger (I am still surprised by how small the Hope Diamond was; sure, it’s enormous for a diamond, but I had always thought it was fist-sized, at least. It’s not. I’ve also hear the Mona Lisa isn’t very big–someday when I get to the Louvre I’ll find out), but it is fricking huge.

I’ll never forget that moment when we walked around the corner–having already examined some lovely art–and there he was.

I audibly gasped. (The unfinished sculptures along this hallway were all by Michelangelo; there were stunning because you could see how they were taking shape and how he worked, five hundred years later.)

We were also incredibly lucky because the Accademia della Galleria wasn’t very crowded, either. And because it wasn’t very crowded, we got to spend a lot of time staring and admiring him. I also, as is my wont, started wondering if the statue had come from Michelangelo’s imagination, or if he had used a model; and how amazing would it be to have been the model?

See how few people there were? I could walk all around and take his picture.

Anyway, as I was saying, I started thinking about the model. Who was he? Apparently in the 1980’s, a small sculpture was found that historians think might have been what Michelangelo have used when making the larger scale work. But we still don’t know who the model might have been. So, as I walked around, staring in sheer wonder at what human beings are capable of creating, awestruck, I kept thinking about the model.

And then I had this image of a young man, in fifteenth century attire–you know, tights and so forth–walking through the Piazza della Signoria–with all kinds of other things going on; and Michelangelo, stopping on his way to his work studio to buy bread and cheese, seeing this incredibly beautiful young man and being as awestruck as we are when we see the sculpture. I didn’t know about the smaller sculpture that people now think was the model, so I thought wouldn’t it be cool if Michelangelo had the beautiful young man pose for him for his sketchbook? And maybe he fell in love with the boy who didn’t love him back, and he painted him from one of the sketches as David and gifted it to him, and it became a legendary lost masterpiece?

And how much would that painting be worth today?

I really liked the idea.

There is, however, no question that the statue is magnificent, an incredible achievement and probably one of the greatest sculptures of all time. I mean, look at the detail on the hand, on the arms, and those veins! This was carved from marble.

It just blows me away.

And he looks different from every angle; his facial expression and pose seem to signal something different depending on where you are looking at him from.


The idea that a work of art as timeless and stunning and precious as Michelangelo’s David is too much for children is vile, disgusting, and indicative of the filthy minds of those who think nudity equals sin. The fact that they also use religion as an excuse to censor great art is equally disgusting; our bodies–no matter how they are shaped, how they are formed, what size and color and so forth–are, per their religion, creations of God and therefore perfect as they are. Denying that means denying God, and that seems like a very egregious sin to me; at least from what I remember of the Bible and Sunday school (all of which is etched into my brain with acid) those who denied God and His marvels didn’t do well.

It is the arts that are the foundation of civilization; it is the arts that show what wonders humanity is capable of creating, and think how dark and barren the world would be without the arts. Denying children exposure to great art is a greater abuse than anything that could ever happen at the hands of a drag queen during Story Hour.

Get your shit together, Florida. Seriously.

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