Russian Woman Wants to Dress Michelangelo’s ‘David’

Russians will be allowed to vote on what 'David' should wear.

Michelangelo's David at the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence. Photo: Annie Slizak, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Residents in St. Petersburg, Russia, will vote on whether or not to censor a 16-foot-tall plastic copy of Michelangelo‘s David, which has become the source of controversy in the city in recent days.

It now stands in front of St. Ann’s Lutheran church as part of the exhibition, “Michelangelo: The Creation of the World,” which also includes animated recreations of the Renaissance master’s Sistine Chapel frescoes, as well as works by Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael to Giotto, Sandro Botticelli, and Titian, according to the exhibition press release.

“How could you put this bloke without any trousers on in the center of St Petersburg, next to a school and a church?” wrote a local women in a letter about the 16-foot statue, quoted by Lenta and translated the by the BBC. “This giant spoils the city’s historic appearance and warps children’s souls.”

“Children are around, looking at this giant nude man. Is that normal?” she added. Although local school director Maksim Pratusevich reportedly insisted his students were “sufficiently cultured and educated” to deal with a little artistic nudity, the matter will still be put to a vote.

Though it’s easy to call such complaints prudish, it wouldn’t be the first time that David was forced to cover up. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has a full-scale cast of the piece that was restored in 2014, removing a fig leaf placed over the genitals by Queen Victoria. (She was, after all, also the woman who made sure to paint over a urinating peasant in a Dutch masterpiece.)

But when Iranian officials visited Rome in January, David was not one of the nude Renaissance sculptures that was covered up to avoid creating a diplomatic incident. Regardless, the Italian press was not pleased with the censorship.

Installation view of "Michelangelo: The Creation of the World." Courtesy of "Michelangelo: The Creation of the World."

Installation view of “Michelangelo: The Creation of the World.” Courtesy of “Michelangelo: The Creation of the World.”

In St. Petersburg, exhibition organizers, according to the BBC, told the RIA-Novosti news agency they would hold a “Dress David” vote to determine what, if anything, the statue should wear. The poll will be open August 16–23.

“Michelangelo: The Creation of the World” is on view at Saint Ann’s Church, 8 Kirochnaya Street, Saint Petersburg, May 22–October 2, 2016.

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