Tourists flock to see Michelangelo’s statue of David after Florida censorship row

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Tourists have flocked to see Michelangelo’s David sculpture in Florence following an uproar regarding a Florida school’s decision to force the resignation of its headteacher over complaints about lessons featuring the Renaissance treasure.

Visitors, many of whom are Americans on spring break, posed for selfies in front of the 5.17 metre marble statue of the biblical figure, which shows him naked, with a sling over his shoulder and a rock in his hand in preparation for battle with Goliath.

Both visitors and locals alike were surprised at the controversy.

Over the weekend, both Florence’s mayor and the museum director voiced incredulity over the ruckus and issued invitations for the ousted principal and the school community to come and see the sculpture for themselves.

Visitors stand in front of Michelangelo’s David statue in the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy

(Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

“We are talking about the roots of Western culture, and ‘David’ is the height, the height of beauty,” museum director Cecilie Hollberg remarked.

Tallahassee Classical School board told school principal Hope Carrasquilla that she must resign or face the sack after a parent described the artwork as “pornographic”, following her decision to show an image of the sculpture to 11 and 12-year-old students.

“It’s part of history,” Isabele Joles from Ohio, a student of French and Italian art, told Associated Press.

“I don’t understand how you can say it’s porn.”

Many well-known works of Renaissance art – and in particular Michelangelo’s David – feature detailed depictions of the human body, including nudity.

Dario Nardella, mayor of Florence, home to the world-famous statue, described the incident as “ridicolo” (ridiculous).

Writing on Twitter, he said: “A Florida teacher was forced to quit for showing students photos of Michelangelo’s David. Mistaking art for pornography is just ridiculous.

“I will personally invite the teacher to Florence to give her recognition on behalf of the city. Art is civilization and whoever teaches it deserves respect.”

Another social media user commented underneath saying: “Art has no greater enemy than the ignorant.”

Ms Carrasquilla said that she is “very honoured” by the invitations to Italy and she may accept.

“I am totally, like, wow,” she said. “I’ve been to Florence before and have seen the David up close and in person, but I would love to go and be a guest of the mayor.”

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