Author Victor Coonin talks about statue’s sexuality on October 15

Alexandra Korey
October 2, 2014

Victor Coonin, author of the book From Marble to Flesh. The Biography of Michelangelo’s David, published by The Florentine Press, demonstrates that while we think we know a lot about the David there is a lot of misinformation out there, and also some overlooked aspects. The potent sexuality of the statue is one aspect that has not received much scholarly attention – until now. This issue will be addressed at a talk given by the author in Florence on Wednesday October 15 at the Museo di Antropologia, via Proconsolo 12: “The Sexuality of Michelangelo’s David”.


Though taken for granted today, the statue’s famous nudity was not always celebrated. Shortly after its original unveiling, the work was censored with a ‘loin garland’ – a kind of floral metal covering for the private parts.  Both the original and its copies continued to be censored in the 19th century.  Coonin delves directly into themes that others have avoided, for example by explaining why David is nude in the first place, and the scholar is the first to directly address why the future King of the Israelites is shown uncircumcised. 



Coonin’s lecture is a wide-ranging discussion, and among the most important contributions is the speaker’s articulation of why the statue and its sexuality should matter to us today.  The David has had different meanings over time. Coonin chronicles how it became a key symbol in AIDS-awareness campaigns in the 1980s and has been regularly used as an admonishment for safe sex in the present day. The issue of censoring the David’s sexuality has also been the subject of lampoon in popular culture as seen in television programs such as Monty Python, SongeBob Squarepants, and The Simpsons.  Coonin also takes seriously the countless copies spread across the globe whether displayed as art or as kitsch, and what they teach us about the relevancy of David’s image.  The lecture concludes with the most recent controversies regarding the nudity of Michelangelo’s David, featuring episodes in Japan, China, and the USA.  It is a rare lecturer who can so eloquently show that the art of the past is a vital part of our present. 


Join The Florentine and Victor Coonin at this talk, which is also an opportunity to see a new room dedicated to the South American collections at the Anthropology Museum, which will be open to our group from 6pm until the beginning of the talk. This event is free, but registration is required on Eventbrite either at this link or using the widget below.

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