U.S. ad of Michelangelo's David with rifle scandalizes Italy

Mon Mar 10, 2014 1:51pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

ROME (Reuters) - Italian cultural officials have threatened court action to stop an American arms manufacturer showing the revered Renaissance statue of Michelangelo's David holding a rifle in its advertising campaign.

Culture Minister Dario Franceschini led the battle cry after stories about the ad - describing the weapon as a "work of art" - appeared in Italian newspapers.

He tweeted his disgust, saying the image "offends and infringes the law. We will act against the American company, which must immediately withdraw the campaign".

Armalite, a small Illinois-based firm, used a photograph of David, which Michelangelo sculpted from a single block of marble in 1504, in an advertisement for its AR50A1 rifle.

The ad substitutes the muscular Biblical character's sling and stone with the modern weapon. The ad campaign has run in specialized magazines, featuring a photo of the David statue, which is on exhibition in Florence's Academia museum.

Cristina Acidini, superintendent of Florence's museums, was as appalled as the culture minister. "We warn the company not to continue using the image," she told reporters.

Her office told Reuters that Florence museums do not allow use of their art works for commercial purposes without permission and that Armalite had not asked for this.

Armalite did not immediately return a telephone call asking for a comment.

Not everybody in Italy's art world thought Armalite's ad campaign was such a bad idea, however.   Continued...

Visitors to the Accademia Museum stop to get a closer look at Michelangelo's statue of David in Florence September 8, 2004. REUTERS/Max Rossi