Thursday, November 19, 2009

Donatello took risks.

David by Donatello
1440-1460, Bronze, 5’ 2 ¼” high
Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence

Well, here is one by Donatello as promised! Personally, this is my favorite David sculpture, though it is one that not many people can recognize. I still remember when I first saw this I did not think this was David of" David and Goliath." He seemed way too girly and sissy. That’s why I thought I should talk about this great piece as it’s pretty dang controversial and that’s always fun.

Okay first to mention is that this sculpture was a big deal. First, he is nude and coming after the Middle Ages where nudity was thought to be indecent, Donatello was making a big break from the past but at the same time reviving antiquity and Greek statues. Second, he was the first freestanding nude since antiquity- again Donatello was bringin’ it all back! Third, it was the first unsupported bronze casted statue in the Renaissance. Okay not as cool, but still when you are the “first” anything during the Renaissance you have done something worth mentioning.

I think David is quite a pretty little fella, which many think isn’t true to the David in the Bible, but it that isn't necessarily true.  He was just a little guy who had to fight this giant and he very well could have been a pretty boy. I mean, take a look at his facial expression up close. He seems contemplative yet confident. I see hints of a smirk with "Goliath you are SO going down” undertones, but maybe that’s just me. Oh yeah, and that cute hat. Well it’s not a hat it’s his helmet, just wanted to clear that up… it was another thing that used to confuse me.

You know what’s really interesting about this? Well first of all it was commissioned by the Medici’s and became a symbol of the independent Florentine republic. It was meant to show their prosperity and most importantly power. Notice what David has his foot on? Take a close look. Yep, that’s Goliath’s head. Not so sissy now is he? Secondly, there is a feather leaning up against David’s inner leg and thigh. Apparently, this was the most controversial point of all because it implied homosexuality- either of David or Donatello himself. During the Renaissance people were getting persecuted left and right for sodomy, so this was especially risky of Donatello. But, that is why I love Donatello. On the outside you see this feminine statue, but after you find out the facts you start to see that most of Donatello’s work was definitely meant to essentially push the envelope a bit. But, this is what every great artist in history did and still does. To make any impact on the art movement you have to try and push people’s buttons. Fun right? Yes.

Donatello took risks. 

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