Today, in our per force aborted Zoom meeting, we were going to look at and discuss Michelangelo’s David, a major work of the Italian Renaissance tradition. Here, in brief, is what I was going to tell you about that work:
I was going to use that work to introduce myself and tell you a little about my own history with art, art history, and Italian Renaissance art specifically. I first encountered the David when I was a college junior on my first trip to Italy in 1984. Like so many students of the history of art, and countless more tourists, I was introduced to that work as a masterpiece by Michelangelo, a real tour de force of marble carving, and one of the most important examples of how the Renaissance (which means rebirth) took an interest in the culture and sculpture of Roman antiquity and modernized that ancient model in works like this carving of the Old Testament hero boy who triumphed over the giant Goliath. Like so many, I saw the work of art as a GREAT work of art, but simply as a work of art.
Then something happened that completely changed my understanding of that sculpture and its continued relevance in today’s society. I shall never forget how I was in Florence in May, 1993 with a group of University of Dayton students when, in the early morning hours of May 23, a bomb exploded outside the Uffizi museum, damaging that world-renowned museum, shattering and ripping through works of art inside, and taking the lives of the caretaker of the museum, his wife, and their small children. The Florentines immediately closed the museum but vowed to open it back up within a month, which they did, and that was when the surprise and Michelangelo’s David entered the picture. A few days before the museum triumphantly re-opened, posters announcing the re-opening were put up all around town. What was notable was that the announcement carried the imagine not of the Uffizi itself but of Michelangelo’s David, a work of art that is not and never has been housed within that particular museum.
This was striking, and deeply meaningful about how the Florentines saw and see Michelangelo’s David and its continued relevance to their lives.
Today, in our Zoom meeting, I was going to invite you for your first Zoom response to think about and reflect on this story. For your Zoom response, which you will submit to me as a MS Word file through this assignments section of Isidore by Thursday, August 27 by 8:00 a.m., send me a 1-page response/reflection on this: think about what this story tells you about Renaissance art, how it does or does not change your understanding of Michelangelo’s masterpiece, how it opens up new ways to think about public art and the public, etc. In other words, let your thoughts go and compose them into an essay in which you drive home the point you would like to make as you reflect on hearing this story.