Saturday, September 01, 2007


One of the attractions of the New York World’s Fair of 1964-65 was the Pietà, a magnificent sculpture carved by Michelangelo from a single block of marble in the two-year span 1498-1499. The sculpture, which depicts a youthful Mary cradling the crucified body of Jesus in her arms, was transported to New York and displayed in the Vatican pavilion. I still remember standing on the moving walkway that swept fairgoers past the sculpture at the speed of a slow walk, gazing at this preternaturally beautiful sculpture, the very substance of which appeared almost luminous.

Thus it was, at the tender age of eleven, that I was exposed to Fine Art in its purest form.

Oh, I had been to museums before. It was hard to avoid, living in the New York area and having parents who were the sort who watched Channel 13 (the public television channel) because they actually liked the programming, not simply as a way to dodge commercials. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Museum of Modern Art. The New York Museum of Natural History, with the adjacent Hayden Planetarium. I loved the Planetarium and was fascinated by the enormous Zeiss projector.

But the Pietà was on a different plane of existence. That was Art with a capital A.

Michelangelo’s David, the original of which stands seventeen feet high in the Accademia Gallery in Firenze (Florence), is another exemplar of Michelangelo’s brilliance, his ability to take cold stone and, with a chisel, turn it into a work of sculptural art that evokes the impression of being composed of living flesh. I have not seen the original David, although I have seen the life-size replica that resides at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Interestingly, Michelangelo chose to depict David with uncircumcised genitalia, an artistic choice that conflicts with what is known about David: that he was, like other Israelites of his time (and today, for that matter), circumcised. Michelangelo may have been influenced by his desire to follow the conventions of Greek sculpture, which favored the natural human form and which regarded circumcision as a form of mutilation. So: no Fireman’s Hat for Davy.

Our friends JoAnn and Gary returned last week from a trip to Italy, during which they spent some time in Firenze and had a chance to see the original David. Not surprisingly, there is a Cottage Souvenir Industry that has grown up around David. Miniature replicas, magnetic Paper Doll Clothing, and, as one would expect in the land that gave birth to Dante and Boccaccio, Penis Shorts.

Yes, indeedy. Silk boxer shorts bearing the (appropriately positioned) image of David’s dong. Dead sexy!

(There’s nothing like taking Beauty and holding it up to ridicule in the process of trying to make a living. It’s a tawdry and obnoxious facet of the human personality. But it sometimes is good for a laugh...)

WARNING: The squeamish or easily offended should simply stop reading RIGHT HERE.

Here they are. If your boss catches you looking at this Possibly Inappropriate Image, tell him it’s Fine Art. And for us, debasing Fine Art is, well, a Fine Art.

Fine Art, suitably debased.

As for the image below the fold, you are strictly On Your Own.

Elisson, You Dick!
Elisson, you dick!

I thought long and hard (heh...he said long and hard) about whether I should post this picture, but then I remembered: “All the ladies go nuts for guys who wear faux nuts.”

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