Parents in US say no to Michelangelo being taught in schools

·3-min read
Parents in Florida complained after children were taught about Michelangelo's masterpiece <i>(Image: Galleria dell'Accademia)</i>
Parents in Florida complained after children were taught about Michelangelo's masterpiece (Image: Galleria dell'Accademia)

IT is regarded as a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture but controversy abounds in America where Michelangelo's David has been branded “pornographic”.


David is one of the world’s most famous artworks?

Michelangelo, born in Florence in 1475, finished David in 1504 when he was just 26. It was originally commissioned by officials of Florence Cathedral to be one of a series of statues of prophets situated along the roofline of the building, although at six tonnes, it was ultimately not put in place and instead positioned in a piazza in the city. It remains one of the most iconic objects in Western art history.


Why is it so esteemed?

Art connoisseurs have admired the marble sculpture since its creation for the way it demonstrates the skill of its creator and embodies the fine art of the Renaissance. Italian Renaissance master Giorgio Vasari wrote that “no other artwork is equal to it in any respect, with such just proportion, beauty and excellence did Michelangelo finish it”.


There’s more to it?

Portraying David - who famously battles Goliath and wins against all odds - the statue became a symbol of civil liberties in Florence, a Republic that felt threatened on all sides by rival states.


So where is it now?

The statue was moved to the Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence, in 1873, where it remains to this day, and later replaced at the original location by a replica.


What’s happening in the United States?

A parent of a pupil at a school in Florida complained students were being exposed to pornography during a lesson on Renaissance art given to the 11 and 12-year-olds, which had featured the David sculpture, as well as Michelangelo's Creation of Adam painting and Botticelli's Birth of Venus. Two other parents complained and demanded advance warning be given in the future before the lesson was given to pupils.


What now?

Principal Hope Carrasquilla, of Tallahassee Classical School, said she resigned after the school board gave her an ultimatum to do so or be fired.

Chair of the school's board, Barney Bishop III, told US outlets "parents are entitled to know anytime their child is being taught a controversial topic and picture…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.”


It comes as…?

Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, last week actioned the expansion of a law that bans public schools from teaching sexual education and gender identity.

Teachers who violate the law face being suspended or losing their teaching licences.


Its not the first time David has sparked controversy?

Although nudity was a concept of classical sculpture, to indicate a mortal human subject is heroic, iIt is documented that when Queen Victoria first saw a reproduction gifted to the V&A by her, she was so shocked by his nudity that a fig leaf was commissioned to cover his modesty. According to the gallery's website, the leaf was kept ready any royal visits, when it was hung on the statue using two hooks.