An Endowed David

Project makes statement about contemporary art in Florence

Alexandra Korey
December 12, 2013

50 miniature Davids with a not so miniature male member placed in key locations around the city are a provocatory art project, not just a souvenir gone wrong.


The artist Pep Marchegiani is challenging the status of contemporary art in Florence, which he claims "is stagnant, and should re-start from the David." On January 7, 2014, the artist's performance piece was received with perplexed joy by Florentines and the many visitors to the Pitti Uomo fashion trade show, many of whom photographed the item on Florence's bridges, in Santa Croce, at the Uffizi and in piazza della Signoria..


The exaggerated statuettes were accompanied by the CV of an unemployed Michelangelo, who could also be found on a park bench near the Fortezza, selling reproductions for 10 euros. Marchegiani says that Florence's art scene is static, compared to other European cities, to the point that if he were alive today, Michelangelo would die of hunger.


The attention-getting stunt is intended as an open letter to Mayor Matteo Renzi to encourage him to help Florence become the new cradle of contemporary art, not just of the Renaissance; to be open to a new, creative future.













What do you think? Does the altered David truly get accross the message intended by the artist, or simply attract attention?


Here are some of our readers' reactions from our Facebook post of this news, which generated quite a conversation:


Stephanie Andrews Hmm… it may be a little bit tacky (OK, a lot), but I take his point and the timing with the start of Pitti Uomo is cheeky and appropriate. I agree with the idea of buying from the local artists, but from the state of business and shop closings, etc. that I have seen in recent years people are not buying. Tourists might be buying, but they are largely interested caricatures and watercolour paintings of the Duomo.


Alison Walker He's right that contemporary art in all forms needs a boost in Florence, which lives off its renaissance heritage. However this is such a cheap way of making his point, that he devalues himself. The best way of supporting contemporary Florentine art is to buy from the local artists, scultors, pay for tickets to quality music concerts and so generate a market.


Sara Amrhein in response to Alison Walker, The problem is though is that there are no places for people to buy and support contempory art. I'm not taking about craft, or replicas of Reniassance works but real contempory art that is in line with the 21st century. There are no major contemporary art shows or galleries or museums in Florence. The poor little strozzina try buts its simply not enough. What about the MOMA, the TATE modern, MOCA. Does that means that these museums are completely irrevelant beacause they house and support contemporary art???? Just because one doesn't understand it doesn't make it bad or ugly or 'gross'. Cities like London, Berlin, and Amsterdam are FULL of history but they also have major contemporary art venues. Why Should Florence be any different? Too much bella vita? It means that people may actually have to wake up and think again??


Marvin Grossman Typical big penises always get attention lol I agree with Allison support the local artists no need to make the david which is absolutely magnificent I have seen it 3 times each time I come away with a new perspective and appreciation it's like creating status of liberty mini statues and selling them in time square cheapens the original just my thought.


Sara Amrhein To start with, Marchegiani makes an excellent point when he says that contemporary art is stagnant in Florence. It does indeed need to be taken seriously and it does need to keep up with the other art cities in the world. Those who think its ok to live in the past are forgetting about one very important thing; There are people who live in this city who are contemporary artists!! Think about rap music compared to classical music, one may prefer one to the other, that doesn't mean however, that there is not a place for both and an audience for both. If Italy wants to remove itself from its current situation it needs to look at the future and not live only in its past. I understand and agree that the history of this country is important but there are hundreds of contemporary artists that live here. Contemporary (art) thinking is essential, the problem is that most people don't take the time to understand it. Most just want to look at pretty things without having to think about it! Marchegiani makes a great point with this work, weather or not I think it's pretty is irrelevant, that's not the point! And while, yes, I agree that there needs to be more public awareness of contemporary art in Florence, I do not think its all up to Matteo Renzi to do it, he is certainly no Lorenzo il Magnifico. Contemporary artists themselves need to be the ones who push this forward to look for ways to show there work. One is often forced to go to extremes such as placing their art in public because there is no where else to show them. If anyone is interested in being part of a group of living, breathing, working artists in Florence, check out our facebook group Creative People in Florence. This city is more than just cadavers! DIO BUONO! We are constantly looking for ways to push our work in the city. And I must add one more thing. Clet, if you are reading this, please move on. We get it. Your work was great when it was new and exciting. Personally, I'm getting a little bored. And if this is our only souce for contemporary art in Florence, we're in a lot trouble! I get your point about moving art out of the Renaissance, but sorry man, enough with the street signs already! Being a relevant artist means CONSTANTLY moving forward, not doing the same thing over and over again! Alexandra, I'm sure that the artist has taken all of these things into consideration (EXPO symbol, anniversary) This is where the thinking and going deeper into the work comes into play! Contemporary art is rarely about face value! I'd love to meet Mr. Marchegiani if anyone can put me in contact. The more of us there are pushing this thing, the better chance we have! And Clet, I''d love tto meet you too! No hard feelings, being an artist means knowing how to accept critisim on ones work! PACE


Bob Hyndman Disgusting. I'm surprised the "artist" didn't just fling it over David's shoulder with his sling.


Melany Luna Sarafis It's all about attention for the "artist". Florence is famous for it's Renaissance roots -- that's the reason I visited. I'm not a fan of modern and contemporary art and wouldn't waste my time with it. This person didn't create art - he took Michelangelo's art and made it vulgar -- what a shame!



Photos courtesy of the artist.

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