Glasgow Subway Rejects Ad Featuring Michelangelo’s “David”

You can probably figure out why

The head of "David"
David's not sure what all the fuss is about.
Roberto Serra - Iguana Press/Getty Images

Certain images should not be controversial. Works of art that have been appreciated for centuries, for one thing — a category into which Michelangelo’s David certainly falls. And yet the sculpture in question is now at the center of its second controversy this year alone, this time in Glasgow.

Writing at Hyperallergic, Maya Pontone outlined the situation at hand. Turns out Barolo, an Italian restaurant in the city in question, wanted to advertise their food in the subway. The ad featured an image of David with a slice of pizza photoshopped in, along with the slogan, “It doesn’t get more Italian.” Simple, right? An Italian work of art eating an example of Italian food.

The company handling advertising for the subway system didn’t think so, nixing the ad on the ground that it depicted nudity. There were echoes of both a recent firing in a Florida school and the ongoing debate about the policies of the New York subway system in this controversy.

When asked for comment, Mario Gizzi — director of the restaurant group that includes Barolo — asked Hyperallergic, “Are we really saying that the people of Glasgow can’t handle seeing a naked statue?” It does seem like this is a far cry from anything remotely inappropriate.

See the Sexual Wellness Ads Banned by the MTA
The saga of Dame’s subway ads is settled, for now

Still, the questions of depictions of nudity in art and its placement in public spaces is likely to endure. It is worth mentioning that broadcast television standards had no issues with this 2013 Saturday Night Live sketch that made, shall we say, prominent use of David. For now, a version of the ad that doesn’t feature David‘s crotch has been approved for use — and we can all wait to see what the next David-related controversy for 2023 might be.

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