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PJ Media
PJ Media
25 Mar 2023
Rick Moran


NextImg:Is Michelangelo's 'David' Art or Porn?

A Florida principal has resigned after complaints from some parents that a Renaissance art lesson where students were shown Michelangelo’s statue of David was pornographic and didn’t belong in school.

Widely seen as one of the most beautiful and impactful works of art in the western world, Michelangelo’s David has been a subject of controversy since it was unveiled in 1504 in Florence. The seven-foot-tall masterpiece showed off the artist’s brilliant command of balance and form with an extraordinary precision that shocked the artistic world at the time.

But Michelangelo created his vision of David naked. And for 600 years, popes, critics, and clergy have all sought to cover up David’s small genitals because, well, think of the children!

Related: A Professor Showed a Painting of Muhammad in Class and Lost Her Job

Three parents with children at Tallahassee Classical School complained to the school board that Principal Hope Carrasaquilla shouldn’t have allowed the lesson to be taught.

“We’re not going to show the full statue of David to kindergartners. We’re not going to show him to second graders. Showing the entire statue of David is appropriate at some age. We’re going to figure out when that is,” Barney Bishop, chair of the school board said.

This isn’t the first time that David has been embroiled in a “porn” controversy.

Yahoo:

The statue depicts David, hero of the Jewish Torah and Christian Bible who slew Goliath and went on to become a king. Most depictions of David in paintings and sculptures to that point showed him as a boy facing or standing over the fallen giant, but the 26-year-old Michelangelo depicted him as a muscular nude man, alone and defiant, before the fight. The sculpture is a symbol of the strength and independence of the Florentines, according to the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze, the museum which displays it, and it has become of the world’s most recognizable and treasured works of art.

The provenance of the ban on nudity in art is found in the Bible. Genesis 3:7 tells of Adam and Eve becoming aware of their nakedness and being ashamed. It wasn’t until the Renaissance and artists like Michelangelo and Botticelli that the old pagan depictions of the naked human body achieved some acceptance.

Throughout the history of the statue, there have been efforts to cover up David’s nakedness. After a while, fashions change, and once again, David nakedness is exposed to the world.

Is the depiction of male genitals in and of itself pornography? A better question might be, does any depiction of the naked human body elicit the kind of “prurient interest” that the Supreme Court defined in Miller v. California (1973)?

Chief Justice Burger outlined guidelines for jurors in obscenity cases:

(1) whether the average person applying contemporary community standards would find the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;

(2) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and

(3) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

Of course, the issue here is whether parents have a right to keep their children from viewing something that, no matter how basic to the art history of western civilization, they find objectionable.

There are a lot of subjects that parents might wish their young children not to be exposed to. But the David depiction was taught in a lesson given to 11 and 12-year-olds. There is nothing inherently sexual in the work. It is forthright, straightforward, honest, and extraordinarily beautiful. Giving pre-teens an opportunity to view and discuss this important artwork should have overridden any objections to David’s nakedness from parents.