Michelangelo’s ‘David’ Is Embroiled in Yet Another Censorship Controversy—This Time For a Pizza Ad in Scotland

This latest episode follows the firing of a Florida principal for allowing the nude to be shown in class.

Michelangelo, David at the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence. Photo by Roberto Serra, Iguana Press/Getty Images.
Michelangelo, David at the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence. Photo by Roberto Serra, Iguana Press/Getty Images.

An undisputed classic is fast becoming this year’s most controversial artwork.

Michelangelo’s David has spurred another nudity scandal—this time in Glasgow rather than Tallahassee—following one restaurant’s attempts to feature the artwork, phallus and all, in its latest subway spot. Global, the company that oversees advertising across Glasgow’s public transit, rejected the original design. Now, the family-owned DRG restaurant group is running a censored version and footing the bill for the reprint.

DRG began conceptualizing its latest ad for Glasgow’s Barolo Italian restaurant in early January. Previous ads featured the Mona Lisa eating spaghetti and God, as depicted in The Creation of Adam (c. 1508–12), handing off a slice of pizza.

“Indeed, we saw the Florida story and genuinely, it didn’t even occur that we could have a similar situation in Glasgow,” Nadine Carmichael, DRG’s head of sales and marketing, told Artnet News. “The Florida saga was utterly mind boggling.”

The original design. Courtesy of DRG

Their original ad featured David chowing on a slice in the nude, framed by a ribbon of taupe and text reading: “It doesn’t get more Italian.”

Global, which declined to comment, first proposed that DRG amend the original printed ads by affixing stickers of the Italian flag where the good lord split David. Unfortunately, once printed, those stickers proved too small. In the end, DRG and Global compromised on an updated design where the protagonist is cropped above his waist.

Modified, approved design. Courtesy of DRG

“The composition just isn’t the same for starters,” Carmichael said, “and it seems odd to have cut out half of an iconic figure, so it slightly jars from our perspective.” Others are concerned about the sculpture’s intensifying notoriety.

“It’s a silly distraction,” remarked Martyn Reed, who oversees Nuart festival in nearby Aberdeen each year. “Not sure what’s worse: [the sculpture] being used to sell pizza, or the mock outrage being leveraged for column inches.”

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