The David trades his slingshot for an assault rifle – Italy is dismayed, shocked, outraged … well, offended!


Dario Franceschini, Italy’s Minister of Culture is outraged by an advertisement by Illinois’ ArmaLite, Inc. a gun manufacturer who has produced and ad featuring Michelangelo’s David, with the tagline “A Work of Art” for a rifle the company is selling for $3000.

The Italian Minister tweeted his contempt for the montage and threatened legal action: “The image of David, armed, offends and infringes the law. We will take action against the American company so that it immediately withdraws its campaign.”

The whole affair has catalyzed and outraged Italy’s cultural elite – not so much outrage, nor media ink has been poured over the third collapse in Pompeii, over the last week – the Italian Government has invoked its copyright on the commercial use of the image of David. The Director of Florence’s Accademia, where the original David is displayed, Angelo Tartufieri told La Repubblica daily that the “law says that the aesthetic value of the artwork cannot be distorted… in this case the choice is not only in bad taste, but completely illegal” (our emphasis… you know, Italy is a country of fine fineries, and subtle distinctions).

So some company in the Mid-West pastes an oversized rifle on what’s considered one of the masterpieces of Western art… (albeit a statue of a Biblical warrior-hero poised for bloodbath,) … and at the same time photoshops in a fig leaf (!) … to cover the youth’s privates, so as to protect American viewers from the all too dangerous – if potentially smaller scandal of it all. We’d say this pretty much covers all the contradictory-and-bewildering-bases, no?

Bewildering as it is, we’d say the leaf… er rifle photoshopped onto the David has so far paid off handsomely for the 60-year old arms manufacturer… thanks to the outrage of Italian Ministers and to shameless media outlets who’ve reported on this story. We link here to ArmaLite’s website, where you can stock up on their Featured Product, the AR 10 Magazines – no… not tabloids, but the cases for hundreds of rounds that go into their “work of art.” The company has products well below the $3000 mark… make sure you visit their Clearance Section for the best deals on what you need to kill, kill, kill.

Lone voice of calm in the “Goliath-sized-controversy-in-an-athletic-cup” is Philippe Daverio, an Italian art historian, who shrugged off the affront to Italian Culture, by saying that the montage is not so different from – cue shock – drawing a mustache on the Mona Lisa.

What’s next? De-contextualizing the David and photoshopping him over a throng of tourists in a mish-mash landscape of Italian monuments for crass commercial reasons? … er, no, wait – that was already done… and it was the Tuscany Region that gone done that one!

(Thanks Frits for sending this in!)

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