Monday, November 07, 2005


I'm at the Bargello today, home of Donatello's statue of David (a fey little giant-killer). There is a tour guide who speaks English with a very heavy Italian accent leading a group of middle-aged ladies along. She, her group and I are in a room with lots of small decorative sculptures, the products of workshops and schools from the Medici era.

By one case, she announces that it holds "the twelve lovers." This strikes me as odd, considering the statues inside are of men wrestling with each other, animals or monsters. She says it several times, and I finally realize she is saying "the twelve labors," as in Hercules. Got it. That changes everything.


Julie said...

Although she is not specificaly named, Mary M. was associated with the penitent woman in the bible who washes Christ's feet with her hair, so that's often part of her iconography. Also in Europe at that time Uncovered, unbound hair was associated with being unmarried ( either a virgin or a prostitute, no wonder you poor men get confused )Conversly, Titian was known to associate nudity with spiritual purity, i.e. the painting of Sacred and Profane love.
Venice's continual, changing beauty wins out in my opinion.
If Donatello's David were wearing a baseball uniform and carrying a bat instead of a sword, he could be Eric. Smirking and proud of himself, but with his head down to as if to say " no big deal, I kill giants all the time"

the hanged man said...

Part of Camille Paglia's thesis in her book "Sexual Personae" is that, for too many years, academidicians (sp?) and art critics ignored or downplayed most sexuality in artwork, instead focusing on "form" and theory/historical context. I can certainly understand the Renaissance's neoclassical tradition, but I don't think you should ignore the sexual element to these idealized nude male and female forms. Especially given how randy/body-loving Mediterranean culture is.

She compared Donatello's David to a male prostitute, both in his vanity (that hat!), his stance (hand on hip), and his androgyny. From the statue's right side, it could easily be a young girl...except for the penis.

Let me just point out that this has nothing to do with Eric, and your interpretation certainly holds true. It is interesting to compare Donatello and Michaelangelo's two Davids.

the hanged man said...

And yes: consistent beauty as an everyday feature in your life wins out over peak experiences in my opinion...

Julie said...

Well, Ive always said that if Eric was a girl he'd be a big floozy, because he LOVES to be LOVED!