Friday, April 5, 2013

Thoughts on again seeing Michelangelo's David

I have no pictures for you today, because the Accademia forbids them, so you'll have to bear with text only.  Given the bandwidth here--new hotel due to booking availability--that's probably for the best for me; I might have had to stay past the end of my sabbatical to upload many photos.

I've seen the David on every trip I've made to Florence.  I believe it to be one of the few perfect pieces of art, Michelangelo at the top of his very considerable game.  Studying it again today only confirmed that belief. 

The statue became, as those who commissioned it hoped it would be, a wonderful symbol for the Florence of that day (1504 completion):  a small hero facing huge opposition and emerging triumphant.  They wanted Michelangelo to give them that symbol, and he did.

What struck me most today, though, were the choices he made in creating David.  This man is not in the traditional pose, his foot on his enemy.  No, he is thoughtful, contemplative, clearly ready, his muscles tensed, his gaze clear--but inactive, waiting.  He is a hero willing not to fight if he can avoid the fighting, but ready to fight at a moment's notice.  He is seemingly without guile, yet the hand holding the stone is slightly hidden, his body is turned to minimize how prepared he is.  He is the Florence of the intrigue of the de' Medicis and Macchiavelli, the small place that managed as much through manipulation as anything else to become, for a time, the centerpiece of Italy. 

He is the David, deservedly Michelangelo's most famous creation, and he is magnificent.

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