Michelangelo's David - The Definitive Review
Review By: Joe

I just went on a trip through a bunch of Europe and it became apparent to me very quickly that I have no idea why I even bother travelling. Reason being:

1 - I don't care about history.

2 - I don't care about visiting historical sites.

3 - I don't care about art, historical or otherwise.

4 - I like sitting.

Anyhow, the guy I traveled with did care about these things so I pretty much followed him around and pretended to be interested in things when I was actually thinking about the direction my life was going and also ice cream. One of the things I saw was this famous statue-sculpture whose name is David and he was made by the orange Ninja Turtle.

First of all, I would like to make the claim that pretty much all art is bad. I can support this theory:

All old art is bad because every old, dead artist ever said, "Hmm...I would like to make me an art today. I wonder what this art I make should be about. Hmm, ahhh, hmmmm....I should perhaps pick an interesting and original subject for this purpose...something that remains largely untapped. Hmmmmm... WAIT! I HAVE IT!!! THE BIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" This means that all old art is boring because it is about the Bible.

All new art is bad because it looks like shit.

Now, David (the statue, I am not assuming everybody who visits this site is named David because that was a miscalculation on my part and I apologize for lumping you all together like that), if you did not know, fits into the former category because it is an old thing and, true to form, it is about the Bible. It is from the story of Davey and Goliath (except Michelangelo changed his name to David so it would be more serious) which is about how a naked man with a little penis took a slingshot and killed a giant with it to compensate for his stunted manhood. The statue presents David holding his little slingshot and looking wistfully off to the side, comparing his penis size with the giant's.

The font I used here is called "David!" Tee hee!

I had to pay some money to see this statue. I forget how much but it wasn't a lot, but I still kind of consider it to be a lot because it doesn't do anything and I don't understand why I should be paying money to be bored. On top of which, if you just walk around Italy you can't avoid tripping over the tiny penis of one of the thirty-bazillion David replicas. I think statistics have shown that there are more David replicas than there are Italians in Italy. Sometimes I would start talking to a person and I'd be all "Excuse me, where is the nearest pizza place and why are you naked?" and then I'd realize it was another one of those silly Davids and I would say "David! You got me again!" and then I would push the David over forthwith, shattering it anon and another one would immediately replace it because there are just David dispensing machines all over the place, I am serious, it's really like that.

I will admit that when I saw the real, original David at first that it was impressive for a moment; I think just because it is such a big statue. I didn't know that it was such a huge statue so it was cool initially. Also, they put dramatic lights all around it to make it look more dramatic and make David's penis look bigger (but that is not fooling anybody). But this is the thing. Later on, in the day I came upon (I mean I found, not that I ejaculated onto) one of the many, many replicas and, in this case, it was one that was just as big as the real one. And I thought, "Hmm, I suppose it is true that this one is somehow less impressive than the real one." But then I thought about why this was some more and I decided that this is only true for two reasons:

1 - There was no dramatic lighting on the replica.

2 - The replica was left alone to get dirty and grimy whereas the original is kept in pristine condition (and also, is "restored" periodically, a process I know nothing about, but implies to me that they keep fixing the thing, which, in my mind sort of makes it not the original piece of art by one artist that it once was, but a modern recreation of it, no?).

Genuinely, if they treated the replica with the same care as the original sculpture, I am sure that I, and the majority of the public, would not know the difference and that it would elicit all of the same reactions from people as the original does or does not.

So, did I have any reaction to David aside from the initial "Garsh, that's big" feeling I got? No, not really. I looked at the thing for like forty-seven hours because my travelling companion didn't seem to want to leave for quite awhile, I truly think because he felt that this was getting his money's worth even though, again, contrary to popular belief, art doesn't do anything, no matter how long you keep looking at it, unless it's a magic eye poster and I can't get those to work either. The museum actually clearly is aware of this on some level because they provided a little terminal that used modern technology to let you zoom in on and rotate various pieces of the sculpture in 3D. It was also pretty boring, but it had the benefit of letting you move stuff and do things and people like things that do things (and they also didn't let you close-up on the weiner because, I imagine, they also realized that jokers like myself would probably do that and then leave it on the screen that way). I think probably one of the people who had the most fun at the place was a little kid who went over and started rotating pieces like mad as though he were playing a video game. I assume he had a little more fun than the adults at the place because they had to pretend to take the art seriously whereas he just went and screwed around with the 3D terminal thingy.

David wonders if Goliath has just broken wind.

My thing is this: I understand that the sculpture is impressive in terms of the fact that a human being spent an arseload of time and effort whacking away at a huge chunk of stone until it looked like something. I get that it is a demonstration of an insane mastery of one's tools (lol) to obtain the ridiculous degree of precision that can be seen in the sculpture, e.g., all of the individual locks of the hair or the veins in the arms (the fact that he even went so far as to include veins is a relatively astounding detail). The issue with me is that I can't see any of this effort just by looking at the thing. Michelangelo has been dead for I think over three years at least now so I am never going to get to see the guy at work so, even though I'm sure more modern methods were used to create them, as I said I can see no particular difference between the original piece and all of its replicas. So although I'm aware it was a shitload of hard work, I can't observe any of it and it's therefore hard for me to appreciate it.

A question that has occurred to me that I don't have a real answer for is this: What if somebody made a sculpture that was about as detailed as David and they did it old-school, hammer-and-chisel style in this day and age? I am sure people would be impressed and take notice, but would they be as unanimously revered for what they had done as Michelangelo is for David? I could be wrong, but my feeling is that no, they would not. And this is simply because David is a really, really old thing. And we have been taught to respect old things, whether we understand them or not.

Also, let's be honest here, I wouldn't have wanted to see Michelangelo working on the David anyway. I bet it would've been extremely boring just watching some guy hammer on a piece of stone for years. It's sort of like the behind-the-scenes junk you get on DVDs. It's interesting to an extent, but, overall, I'd much rather watch the movie than observe the art director dicking around in photoshop. The difference is that movies have plots and things happening whereas art is just the one thing. You look at it and it's done. Yes, yes, fine, apparently a piece of art can have lots to say and can tell a whole story just by sitting there and doing nothing and boring me, but, I'm sorry, I'm just not deep enough to appreciate it on such a level. Which leads me to my other point.

One of the top twenty results of a Google image search for "David."

I don't think most people out there are able to appreciate art either. The same thing is true for what is considered a lot of classic cinema or literature or, I would say especially, poetry. I think most people sample these things and they are perhaps affected on some level. I think that David probably affects most people in the same way that it affected me in that they probably think, "Wow, that's big." Beyond that, I am pretty sure people witness this and most other art and can't actually find any further appreciation for it within themselves, but they have been informed again and again by our culture that this is an important and beautiful thing (and also they spent money on it) so they pretend they've gotten more out of it than they really have.

I saw a young British couple that sat and looked at the damn thing from multiple angles (they supplied you with chairs that surrounded the sculpture) for a long, long time, mostly from around the back of it. The girl motioned her boyfriend over at one point to a specific chair to tell him to look at the hair and how "fluid" and realistic it was, which he agreed upon. Frankly, this isn't true. Nobody has hair like that. Actually, it looks like individual pieces. It is no way fluid and, although I'm sure it took forever, it's a far cry from what hair looks like. They also had comments about the way the shoulder was shaped and blah blah blah. I have to say that I was personally unable to ignore the fact that, what it all came down to was, I was looking at a facsimile of a man ass. Hmm, ahhh, what does this man ass say to me about the human condition? Anyway, I later saw these Brit kids looking around the gift shop, trying to decide what would be the best piece of junk with a picture of David on it to purchase.

There's little more dismal to me (except Africa, maybe) than observing people like this aimlessly shuffling through a museum, stopping to observe things and reading the little informational placards in front of them in an attempt to find a reason (or, at least, to pretend to find a reason) to be using their time and money in this manner. They've been told that this is the thing they are supposed to go and look at when they are in this country and that this is one of the major things that is supposed to really astound them and change their lives exponentially. So they go see this thing, but then, the unthinkable occurs! The thing has not astounded them, has not made a huge impact on their overall perception of the world! Shock/horror!! So what do they do? They read the little placard in front of the thing and retain a piece or two of trivial information about it. They sit and look at the thing for a very long time until they've come up with something that sounds plausibly enough like an actual opinion. They go to the conveniently-located-at-the-end-of-the-museum gift shop and buy a tiny replica of the thing.

Then, when they return home and have a dinner party and when their friends ask them how their trip was they say it was amazing and they tell them they saw that important thing and they say, "Did you know this about the important thing?" and they list off the things they remembered from the placard. Then they say that when you look at the important thing you are struck by whatever it was that they settled on saying that sounded like a plausible enough opinion; perhaps something about how this particular element of it demonstrated this way in which the artist must have used the brush or the manner in which they handled the chisel, not that they actually know anything about this process. Then they gesture to the mantelpiece at their replica of the thing and show their friends how cool it is that they got an official copy of the important thing because it came directly from the important thing's gift shop in the museum in the country in which the important thing is housed. And their friends go, "Oooooh..." and think to themselves, "My peers have witnessed this important thing and their lives have clearly been made more important because of it. I must be sure to make a trip to also see the important thing."

And so on, and so on, and so on.

So, my final opinion on Michelangelo's David? It's a naked guy and it doesn't do anything. It is pretty big though. Three out of ten hammer and chisels!


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