Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Divine David: Michaelangelo's Most Famous Sculpture Has Been Adored for Exactly 500 Years

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Divine David: Michaelangelo's Most Famous Sculpture Has Been Adored for Exactly 500 Years

Article excerpt

David is fresh from his bath. All 17 feet of his smooth Carrara marble body has been cleansed of grime that has built up since his last cleaning, which was in 1843.

On the occasion of his 500th birthday this year, David is poised for his impending fight with--and victory over--the Goliath. The furrows in his handsome brow, the raised veins on the backs of his hands, the quivered nostrils register his assessment of the approaching, belligerent giant. David is soon to load his taut sling with the rock that will fell the Philistine foe. His gaze is so unwavering that many visitors to the statue in Florence's Galleria dell' Accademia can be seen looking in the direction of David's stare.

No matter what people profess as their "type"--the kind of body they find attractive--few can deny that David's build is ideal. The nude curly haired figure is at once slim and muscular, boyish and manly, classically handsome but forever modern. David's head and hands are larger than his other proportions--though the other parts are proportionate to a sculpture more than three times the size of a normal man (a physiological fact best understood when looking up from his pedicure-perfect feet).

Giorgio Vasari, the gay artist and writer of Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, wrote of the sculpture, "The grace of this figure and the serenity of its pose has never been surpassed."

Who is this David--apart from the teenage biblical figure who saved his people, the Hebrews? Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) was a gay man who seems to have expressed many of his sublimated sexual desires in stone--David being his most male-adoring creation. Frederick Hartt, the late scholar, theorized that David had been modeled on "one of the mountaineer quarrymen from Carrara. Such a lean build, especially the contrast between the broad, muscular shoulders and the taut, tiny waist, would be the normal result of habitually rotating the torso while swinging a heavy hammer."

Most art historians believe David was an imagined creation of Michelangelo's: the ideal male chiseled from rock (freed from stone, as Michelangelo often described his task) between 1501 and 1504. Unlike most artists of his day who hired assistants to help with the labor of making sculpture, Michelangelo worked alone on David. …

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