07 May Weak ankles ‘could cause collapse’ of Michelangelo’s iconic David
In a time long before today’s life size sculptures, including those that we fabricate ourselves here at Big Statues, there was one especially remarkable statue that soon attracted iconic status – and that retains such iconic status today. We are, of course, referring to the incomparable David by the Renaissance artist Michelangelo.
The famously defiant 4.34 meter tall nude boy-warrior has been delighting art lovers for more than 500 years, but alarming new reports have suggested that it could actually collapse due to weak ankles. That is the verdict of experts in the statue’s native Italy, with its leaning pose and Michelangelo’s poor choice of marble apparently being to blame.
Michelangelo used a single block of marble to create the statue, which was finally unveiled in 1504. However, it was then placed for centuries outdoors, near the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, being exposed not only to the worst of the weather, but also a riot that caused damage to the sculpture in 1527.
In 1873, David was moved to the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze, but its travails were far from over, one of its toes being smashed off with a hammer by a protesting Italian painter in 1991. Fast-forward to 2011, and a year’s worth of restoration work on the statue was completed, grime and sulphate deposits having been carefully cleaned off.
There’s no doubt that David has been so much more of a cultural icon over the years than almost any of today’s life size sculptures could ever hope for. It appeared in an early episode of The Simpsons and has had its image printed on millions of souvenirs, from tea towels to fridge magnets.
Not everyone wants to keep admiring it, however, historical novelist Sarah Dunant suggesting that it should be hidden away for a few centuries, “so it’s expunged from our consciousness and our popular references… so it can be found again… and seen again with a sense of awe.”
Still, we here at Big Statues probably join the entire global artistic community in being sad to hear the news about the sculpture’s risk of collapse. Its popularity is certainly signaled by the more than one million people who visit the statue each year, affirming its reputation as a real star among statues.